After we covered all about the types of material most guitar strings are made of in Part I, it is time to move on to the other crucially important characteristics you need to keep in mind to equip your guitar with the best fit of string. These are the gauge of the string, as well as the shape of its core and the way it is coated and wound. Stay ‘till the end to also get a recommendation for some of the best guitar string brands.

Gauge

This refers to the size of the string in diameter, or we can simply say “gauge” is just a fancy term for thickness. It’s hard to believe, but even a thousandth of an inch can make a huge difference in your guitar’s sound and feel. This characteristic is measured in 1/1000th of an inch. When you look at a pack of guitar strings, the heaviest and lightest gauges will be displayed on the packaging. For example, ‘10-46’ – which means the pack’s lightest string is a 10-gauge string that is 0.010 inches or 0.254mm in diameter,  and the thickest string is 46-gauge that is 0.046 inches or 1.17 mm in diameter.

String core

The string core essentially means the shape of the guitar string. There are two key types – the round core and the hex core. The round core strings offer mellower tones that sound fantastic when playing blues or classic rock. Meanwhile, the hex core strings are typically louder and brighter, delivering a very modern sound best suited to more recent rock and metal.

Winding

When we talk about winding, we’re referring to the way the wire wrap is wound around the core. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the surface of your string. Roundwounds have a textured surface. They have a bright tone and flexible feel, making them a solid choice for rock, metal and fingerstyle. Roundwounds are also the cheapest and most widespread option. 

When it comes to flatwounds, as the name suggests, they have a flattened surface. They produce more tension on the fretboard, which means less fret buzz and smoother note transitions. But they’re harder to fret and have a dark, bass-heavy tone, which is why they;re widely used in jazz. Half rounds have a slightly flattened surface. They’re brighter than flatwounds, but stiffer and darker sounding than roundwounds. They’re also the most expensive of the three types and may be hard to find at your local store.

Coating

In the late 90s, the brand Elixir revolutionized the industry by launching coated guitar strings. With a plastic polymer around the wire wrap, they keep away sweat, dirt and other grimy build-up and oxidation.

There are two major types of coating, developed by Elixir and copied by other brands:

  • Polyweb: with a heavy coating, they have a smoother feel and longer lifespan.
  • Nanoweb: with a light coating, they feel and sound more like uncoated types.
  • Optiweb: their latest coating – the thinnest of all and meant to last the longest.

Coated strings last at least twice as long as uncoated ones, but they’re also about twice as expensive. Another thing is they aren’t as bright and have less sustain. Let us know if you’d like to learn more about Coating.

String Brand Recommendations

There are a variety of different string brands on the market, and that can make it difficult to know where to start looking. Here are a few recommended brands for each of the three main types of guitar strings.

  • Electric Guitar Strings – Elixir – any of theirs really, Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinkies, D’Addario NYXL, Rotosound
  • Acoustic Guitar Strings – Elixir Phosphor Bronze w/Nanoweb Coating, Ernie Ball Earthwood Strings, D’Addario, Martin M170 80/20 Bronze (although they tend to wear out in a few days)
  • Nylon and Classical Guitar Strings – D’Addario Pro-Arté, Godin Nylon Strings, Martin

If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here and here. 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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

READ ALSO:
How to tune my guitar?
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What are the different types of acoustic guitars?
Types of Electric Guitar According to Body Shapes (Part I)
Types of Electric Guitar According to Body Shapes (Part II)

Photo by Alexis Baydoun on Unsplash

Choosing the right type of strings for your guitar is incredibly important. When you know what strings to use it’s a huge asset to your playing and likewise when you get it wrong it can be incredibly detrimental. There are many types of guitar strings, each of which contributes a different sound to the music you play. In this two-part series, we will cover all the basics you need to know in order to equip your guitar with the best fit of strings.

The sound of a guitar string depends on the material and gauge of the string, as well as the shape of its core and the way it is coated or wound. In this first part, we will dive into the types of material. 

The most common strings are metal ones that use steel and nickel, metal ones made from brass or bronze, and strings made from nylon. Occasionally, you can find ones made from other metals, like:

  • Titanium: long-lasting, with a bright tone.
  • Cobalt: has a bright tone and wide range.
  • Chrome: has a warm tone, but breaks easily.

Steel and nickel are mainly used to make strings for electric guitars. Usually, an electric guitar string will consist of a steel wire that is plated in nickel, although you can also buy pure steel or pure nickel ones. Steel strings have a long sustain and are best for metal, rock and country. Important to know is that they should never go on a classical guitar. Ever! Classical guitars are lightly braced, with a delicate body. You might accidentally snap its neck by using high-tension steel since you’re likely to double the tension it is designed to be able to handle. On nickel strings, your notes will be warmer, richer and fuller. Because of this, nickel is more popular with rhythm guitarists and is typical in vintage-sounding blues or jazz. Opting for nickel-plated steel strings allows you to find a happy medium between these two sounds.

Brass and bronze strings are a variation of steel strings for steel-string acoustic guitars. Brass is favored by a lot of musicians who want to bring out the “natural” tones of their instrument. It combines a strong bass on the lower strings with a super bright tone on the higher strings. But here is also a warning – brass ages faster than other types. Bronze plated strings deliver a smoother and warmer sound than brass, which is why they are often used for softer music pieces.

Nylon strings are typically used on nylon string guitars or classical guitars. They can have low tension, so you might experience some fret buzz when you play. With the right guitar body, you can master a diversity of styles – from classical, through flamenco and gypsy jazz, to country, with nylons. Do keep in mind though that because they tend to stretch more than steel ones, they require more frequent tuning, especially when newly installed. They are also more sensitive to atmospheric changes caused by humidity and temperature.

Now you know what to expect from the different types of strings based on the material they are made of. In order to match your guitar with the best strings though you need to also be on the lookout for their gauge, string core, coating and winding. We will be covering that in the second part so stay tuned!

If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here and here. 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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

READ ALSO:
How to tune my guitar?
10 Gift Ideas That Every Guitar Player Would Love
What are the different types of acoustic guitars?
Types of Electric Guitar According to Body Shapes (Part I)
Types of Electric Guitar According to Body Shapes (Part II)

Photo by Daniel G on Unsplash

To pinpoint the best acoustic guitar brands is a highly subjective endeavour, however it is important to know some basics, particularly for people who are relatively new to the instrument and would like to narrow down their search when looking to buy one. So here is a breakdown of Neli’s prefered brands and their distinctive features.

Fender

While many guitar companies began making acoustic guitars and later moved into electric guitars, with Fender it happened the other way around. Although Fender moved much later into acoustics, the legendary brand offers a diverse collection. These models include both classic styles and more diverse shapes, so players in all genres can find a great fit. Although they are not widely regarded as a high-end maker of acoustic guitars, they are very well respected for the entry-level acoustics.

Each Fender acoustic guitar is made to play fast and smooth. Tonewoods like mahogany, sapele, and spruce keep each Fender acoustic guitar smooth and crisp, with a tightly focused sound that cuts through live mixes.

Martin

The founder of Martin is known as the person to invent the first-ever acoustic guitar in the United States, so one can expect good quality – and the brand delivers. It is one of the oldest yet most reliable ones that offer top-quality instruments for the past nearly 200 years, and they’re still going strong. Generations of players in all genres — from Johnny Cash to Paul McCartney and Ed Sheeran — have cherished their Martin guitars because of their higher-end craftsmanship and timeless sound. 

Martin pioneered body shapes like the dreadnought and orchestra model (OM) and, even today, its model lines provide rich, supple response with a delicate mid-range and powerful bass. It’s hard to beat the quality that Martin offers in their lower price-range as well. They might be a bit more pricey, but you won’t need another guitar. Added bonus – they are very environmentally friendly.

Taylor

Taylor’s signature body shape, the grand auditorium, blends the strumming power of a dreadnought with the fingerstyle articulation of an orchestra or concert model. If you’re looking for a brand that combines premium tonewoods with dynamic voicing and pristine build quality, it’s hard to beat Taylor guitars. 

The best thing about this brand is that it manufactures guitars for everyone. Whether you have a tight budget or you are ready to spend well on a high-end guitar, you will get a perfect acoustic guitar to suit your needs. Artists such as Taylor Swift, Zac Brown, and Jason Mraz play the guitars by this brand. 

Cort

Cort Guitars is a South Korean manufacturer that makes a massive amount of guitars. Chances are, you have played one of the Cort Guitar models, and you didn’t even know it, because they produce guitars for larger companies. A little known fact is they also have their own brand. They do not advertise the same way that other brands do so you might be hearing this for the first time. 

But if you do stumble across Cort, you will find a great line of instruments that cover all the genres. These models come in all kinds of finishes and price points, and they have a pretty wide variety of shapes and features for any playing style.

Yamaha

Yamaha guitars are built to last, with the construction sturdy enough to withstand years of use. They are designed to appeal to guitarists of all levels, and the sound is so good that you can grow with the instrument and not feel that it holds you back, which is sometimes an issue with low-price, beginner guitars.

Their higher-priced guitars are also particularly special. With features enabling you to play live with a band, Yamaha’s innovative “Transatlantic” technology allows you to have reverb and chorusing effects to sing straight out of the guitar itself… without needing to plug in! 

Ibanez

Ibanez is one of the most reliable guitar brands in the industry. It is a top contender when it comes to guitar brands for entry-level and amateur guitarists and it is a great option if you are looking for a budget nylon string. On the acoustic market, Ibanez prioritizes traditional body shapes like the dreadnought and concert bodies. For anyone who is willing to purchase a high-quality guitar but does not have the budget to go for a Martin or Taylor, an Ibanez is a smart choice.

Kremona

Did you know that one of the premier European guitar manufacturers – Kremona, known for their industry-leading nylon string classical acoustic guitars, is Bulgarian? That’s right! Established in Bulgaria in 1924 by the master luthier named Dimitar Georgiev, Kremona has built itself as a household name when it comes to both affordable and high-end classical guitars. The flagship models of the Kremona line of nylon string acoustics feature solid tops, backs and sides built with superior tonewoods delivering a balanced sound with rich lows and clear mids perfect for classical, jazz, pop and more. Their steel-string guitars are also a fantastic option coming in many traditional body styles.

If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here and here. 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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

READ ALSO:
How to tune my guitar?
10 Gift Ideas That Every Guitar Player Would Love
What are the different types of acoustic guitars?
Types of Electric Guitar According to Body Shapes (Part I)
Types of Electric Guitar According to Body Shapes (Part II)

When a guitarist’s approach to playing includes flatpicking and fingerpicking simultaneously, it’s called hybrid picking. This is accomplished by holding a pick in the conventional way, and then using your remaining fingers to pluck as well. Although it has a strong connection with country and rockabilly styles, hybrid picking can be used in practically all styles of guitar playing.

Who uses hybrid picking?

It was popularised by progressive rock guitarists such as Steve Howe in the ‘80s, but these days the technique has been adopted by many players because of its speed and flexibility. Players like Guthrie Govan and Eric Johnson have pushed technical boundaries and often include hybrid picking in their melodic arsenals.

Why learn hybrid picking?

Basically it is the best of both worlds. It allows you to have the possibilities presented when using a fingerstyle approach while instantly being able to switch back to flat picking when you desire to do so. Hybrid picking also has a unique sound quality compared to just the pick, or just the fingers. 

The natural question that comes after this is – how to do it then?

Start Small

For those who feel more comfortable using a standard pick, try a small one with a pointy tip – it facilitates a true pick pluck in tighter spaces, and the small “pick print” means it will stay relatively out of the way, leaving your other fingers plenty of room to get into the mix for various plucking patterns.

Flow Your Roll

Many fingerstyle players use primarily the first three fingers, but since the index finger is occupied pinching the pick along with the thumb in hybrid picking, fingers 2 and 3 become primary. 

You can try to get a consistent roll going forward – pick, 2, 3, repeat, or backward – 3, 2, pick, repeat.

Here’s an elementary exercise: Form an open D chord and focus on the top three strings so that the arpeggiated chord tones are, from low to high, A, D, F#. Get a click going on a metronome. Try repeating the arpeggio up from strings three to one in time. Then try the same in reverse. When you have this down, slow the tempo and play the notes as triplets, three to a beat.

Involve the Pinkie

To get a flow going, try it in 6/8 time as follows: Pick the open D, pluck the A on the third string with finger 2, pluck the D on the second string with finger 3, and then pluck the F# on the top string with the pinkie.

Don’t hit that a second time; just go right back down in reverse order until you pick the open D string, and then start heading right back up. Keep repeating up and down.

Next, try working that concept using different chords with the goal of switching smoothly, in time, from chord to chord.

Final thoughts

Once you can do that, you’re off and running as a hybrid picker, with a million songs at your fingertips. Learning to work both your fingers and the plectrum opens up all sorts of new avenues for exploration so dive ahead and find your next inspiration. 

If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here and here. 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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

PhotPhoto by freestocks on Unsplash

READ ALSO:
What is a classical guitar?
What are the different types of acoustic guitars?
What are Harmonics and How to Play Them

When you get on the path of learning how to play an instrument, sooner or later you arrive at a point when you want to also record your playing. There are plenty of options for sound recording software out there and which one is right for you depends on what your goal is. In order to help you, we have gathered below the best software for free and also the best professional picks. 

Free sound recording software

1. Audacity

Audacity is a free music recording software that is great for beginners as it has a ton of effects, high-quality sound, loaded with plugins and many editing features. It is easy to understand and once you get the hang of it, you can record any audio you want. You can even produce professional studio-quality audio if you have the supporting hardware for recording high-quality audio.

2. Pro Tools First

Pro Tools is the ultimate mixing tool. But it’s not cheap. So a good thing is there’s Pro Tools First – the free limited access version of this top recording program. Since it is the free version you are limited in what you can create, but it’s perfect for singers, songwriters, and musicians just starting out on a limited budget and who want to get a taste of some of the best recording software out there.

3. Garageband

Garageband comes free with any Mac computer and can cover most recording needs. It is more powerful than you’d expect from a free piece of software and is a perfect centerpiece for any budget home studio. You know how Apple is really good at making things look pretty while still maintaining high functionality – GarageBand is just like that.

4. Ocenaudio

Ocenaudio is another free, cross-platform audio recording software that has many amazing features for audio editing. It is a little complicated to understand at first but once you get the hang of it, you will appreciate how highly intuitive it is and its simple interface. It also features a powerful library.

5. Traverso

Traverso has an easy to use interface combined with innovative mouse and keyboard shortcuts that help quickly perform audio recording tasks. It is developed for beginners so they can easily learn and get onto recording music. Traverso’s mastering controls, efficient user interface, and intuitive recording performance make it stand out among the rest.

Professional sound recording software

1. Ableton Live 10

This is one of the most beloved DAW (Digital audio workstation) recording softwares on the market. It gives a long free trial (90 days!) for you to make up your mind, with more features than you’ll need for any simple audio recording project with enough for a full-on music project if you upgrade. Probably the best feature is the variety of options that it gives – you can record on multiple tracks with this industry-standard software, as well as sequence MIDI files. A distinctive feature is also the abundance of samples that it offers, with more than 5,000 sounds to choose from, as well as 57 different effects. Overall it is a reliable, safe choice for home producers of all levels, but it’s especially good for novices looking to experiment.

2. Avid Pro Tools 12

Avid Pro Tools 12 is another of the best softwares a musician could ask for. The sound processing with this software is easy, fast and good. It’s one of the most powerful software products available on the market today for recording music, mixing, editing and composing. The DAW package contains a variety of virtual instruments, including, drums, pianos, synths, and other sample instruments. But keep in mind you need a powerful computer system to support this program, unless you go for the ‘First’ version. Definitely check out the requirements before purchasing it.

3. Logic Pro X

Apple has two DAWs in its stable: Garageband, a veritable staple discussed before, and Logic Pro. Logic shares its user-friendly design philosophy with Garageband. If you started with Garageband, you’ll find a lot to love in Logic Pro X.  fantastic built-in plugins that give you a suite of all the tools you need to create great recordings right away. Couple that with intuitive MIDI and audio editing and a powerful sample editor, Logic Pro X strikes a perfect balance between functionality and ease of use. 

4. Image-Line FL Studio 20

FL Studio is an outstanding DAW, with full-featured, professional-grade native plugins. The sum of the functionality, pricing and user interface results in a really great DAW for beginners and pros alike, delivering everything that every other DAW brings but with its own unique workflow.

5. Cubase 

Cubase has been around for a long time and remains popular to this day. It’s innovative, trustworthy, and stable.  Although this DAW isn’t the easiest software to use right out of the box, after a little learning, you’ll be able to make the most out of the startling number of features that it offers. You’ll soon have the tools you need, whether you’re in the studio or performing live.

If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here and here. 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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you have been playing guitar for a little while, you’ve probably heard of harmonics – those high-pitched or bell-like notes. You definitely have heard them in songs by bands like U2, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and many others. If you are already familiar with the topic – read along and go through the basics again. If not – buckle up and dive into this new technique. 

Harmonics are actually played every time you pluck a note. Most of the time, however, you do not hear them. What you hear is the fundamental (sometimes called the first harmonic). The fundamental is the loudest sound produced, but it is accompanied by several harmonics. When a string is plucked, it creates vibrations from the guitar’s bridge to the nut and thus many other overtones – or harmonics – are created as a result of shorter frequencies along the fretboard. There are various ways to produce guitar harmonics. You can play natural harmonics which are harmonic instances that occur naturally on the fretboard as well as artificial harmonics. The latter uses techniques that allow you to play harmonics no matter where on the fretboard you are.

Natural Harmonics Vs. Artificial Harmonics

It’s important to know that there is a difference between the types of harmonics you can play on your guitar.   The natural harmonics, also known as “open-string harmonics are played on an open string, while the artificial harmonics are when you play a harmonic on a fretted string. Although all harmonics are actually artificial, the latter technique is the one commonly referred to as “playing an artificial harmonic”. 

Natural Harmonics

The easiest way to produce a harmonic sound is through the use of natural harmonics which occur at various locations across the fretboard. However, the most common and distinct natural harmonics are located on the 12th, 7th, and 5th frets.

Natural harmonics are created by making the string vibrate in fractions. For example, half of the length fraction results in a 12th fret harmonic, a third of the length fraction results in a 7th fret harmonic, a fourth of the length fraction results in a 5th fret harmonic, etc.

Here is also a fun fact: When you play a harmonic note, you’re playing the same note as the fretted or open note. So a harmonic on the 12th fret of the A string is the same note as fretting the 12th fret on the A string. A harmonic on the 5th fret results in a 2 octave higher note than the open string you’re playing it on. And lastly – a harmonic on the 7th fret results in an octave higher note than the fretted 7th fret.

When it comes time to actually playing natural guitar harmonics there are a couple of things to be aware of: to isolate the harmonic, you’ll want to very lightly press on the string at either the 5th, 7th, or 12th position (or any other position you want to experiment with). Be sure to place your finger above the metal part of the fret – this will produce the clearest sounding harmonic rather than if your finger is in between two metal frets. For beginners, you may find it easier to actually pluck a string first and then lightly touch the string with the tip of your finger at the 5th, 7th, or 12th fret. Alternatively, if you rather place your finger on the string first, you may find that the harmonic rings more clearly if immediately after you pluck the string, you quickly remove your finger.

Apart from natural harmonics, which are somewhat restrictive, you can also use artificial harmonics which allow you to produce that signature high-pitched harmonic sound, anywhere on the guitar. Here are 3 different types of artificial harmonics you can play:

Touch Harmonics

Simply fret a note on one of the strings. Place your right-hand index finger (for right-handed guitarists) on the note twelve frets above the fretted note, as if you’re going to chime that note. So your finger should be over the fretwire. With both the note fretted and the right index finger in place,  use either your thumb or a pick and pluck the string – then you will be able to hear the harmonic quality of the note. You will produce a note which is an octave higher than the one you’re fretting.

Tap harmonics

Tap harmonics are the same as touch harmonics up until the “pluck the string” part.  You fret a note, but then tap the fret twelve frets higher than the note you’re fretting.  Try to do so in a way where your finger quickly touches the string exactly above the corresponding metal fret and then is removed.

Pinch Harmonics

This technique is definitely the most difficult type of harmonics to play. They are done best while holding the guitar pick in a way that less of the pick is exposed so that there is less distance between the end of the pick and your thumb. What you should aim for is plucking a string with your guitar pick while almost simultaneous lightly dampening the string with your thumb. Once your thumb dampens the string, it will create that “scream” sound known as a pinch harmonic.

Guitar harmonics are just another technique you can add to your guitar skills toolbox. Getting them right can definitely take time and practice, however doing so allows you to create more unique sounds. It is best if you try all guitar harmonic techniques to see which ones you like the most.

If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here and here. 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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

Doesn’t it sound awesome to be one of those guitarists who can just show up and jam? No sheet music, no chord charts, no tutorials… It seems like magic how they can play every song – even such they hear for the very first time. But worry not – you don’t need any superpowers to be able to do that as well. What actually is going on is that their capable fingers are paired with well-trained ears. Keep on reading to discover why your ears are the key to that seemingly-magical ability and how to start training them.

What Is Learning By Ear?

Learning by ear is basically the process of learning a piece of music without any written music. It comes from the tradition of folk music, where melodies were rarely written down, and people would ‘pass them down via aural tradition’ – learn them by hearing, and then replicating the music.

Do you need perfect pitch to play by ear?

Perfect pitch is the ability to hear a pitch and immediately know which note it is. It seems to be something you’re born with. You either have perfect pitch or you don’t (though some people claim you can learn it). Whatever the case, having perfect pitch is pretty rare and you don’t need it to play by ear or make great music. 

Now that we have cleared that up, here are these four main ear training areas that will lead to you becoming the guitarist you always dreamed of being.

1. Pitch

Pitch ear training is all about hearing the notes and how they relate to one another. First, hone your core sense of the “highness” or “lowness” of sound. This is referred to simply as pitch ear training. Once you’ve mastered single note pitches, the basics of all ear training is learning to hear relative pitch. One common approach is interval ear training which teaches you how near or far notes are from each other.

2.  Rhythm

While many guitarists stop at pitch ear training, being able to identify rhythms and rhythmic patterns may be even more important. If you’re going to cover a song, or play within a certain style, matching the strum pattern, timing, and tempo matters a lot to your audience. With rhythm mastery you can even feel free to depart from it intentionally and the creativity will make your performance even more powerful. Furthermore, when jamming with a band, you’ll be able to better play around with the drummer and maybe ‘trade 4s’ – where you and the drummer take turns to solo over 4 bars.

3. FX and Tone

What? You can train your ears to do that? Yes, of course, and you should. Audio FX ear training will guide you through the world of sound effects available to today’s guitarist.

You will be able to tell what is going on in a piece of music much more precisely and then use it in your own playing and writing.

4. Song-Writing

Hear me out before you say that song writing isn’t an ear training exercise. A song is the structure that brings all of the previous points together. Learn that structure, and you’ll know what to do next—whether you’re writing your own song or learning someone else’s. 

Most songs are made up of certain parts (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) and built from some fundamental elements (notes, rhythms, harmonies, instrumentation, etc.). By learning the musical characteristics of song structures and what tends to follow what, you’ll instinctively know what to do next even if you’re jamming on a song you never heard before!

Conclusion

They may not strum, pick, run around the fretboard or stomp a pedal, but your ears are as important as your fingers if you’re aiming to become the best guitarist you can be. Start training them intentionally today, if you haven’t already!

If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here, here and here. 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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

If you want to expand your guitar playing beyond strumming an accompaniment chord part then fingerstyle guitar is a great way to add variety to your playing. It is a great technique to learn for both the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar. With its piano-like sound (since you play the bass parts and the melody parts at the same time), one can say it is the perfect technique for playing without other musicians around.

Definition 

Under ‘Fingerstyle Guitar’ we understand the technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or finger picks (picks attached to fingers), as opposed to ‘Flatpicking’ (picking individual notes with a single plectrum) or strumming all the strings of the instrument in chords. The term is often used synonymously with ‘Fingerpicking’.

Difference Between Strumming and Fingerstyle

The main difference between strumming and fingerstyle is that strumming is a very simple guitar technique in which we strum (brush) the strings with the finger or guitar pick up or down. This technique is perfect for beginners who want to play simple chords and songs.

With fingerstyle guitar you will pluck the strings with the ‘picking hand’ fingertips so the beginning could be more challenging than strumming as we have to now use finger independence with our dominant hand as well as the fretting hand.

Further characteristics

The main aim when playing fingerstyle is to orchestrate the piece of music, meaning that you merge bass lines, melody lines and chords into one part. All classical guitar is fingerstyle and is played on nylon string guitars, but over the last few decades, many great players have adapted fingerstyle to steel string and even electric guitar and popularized the technique.

It is still most commonly utilized in folk and classical guitar, but it can be utilized in just about any style. 

In essence fingerstyle guitar involves quick playing, moving around the fretboard and using all of the strings. If you can get good at this style then others, such as bluegrass, will come more easily to you, but be prepared for plenty of frustrated hours improving your finger independence.

If you are used to strumming, this technique can be quite overwhelming at first, so before you go here is something to keep in mind – even the most challenging fingerpicking arrangement, in any style of music, consists of three basic movements. The thumb can pluck a string, the other fingers can pluck a string or the thumb and another finger can pluck some strings at the same time (called a ‘pinch’). That is it! Once you learn these basic movements, with practice and time, it’s easily possible to learn some great sounding pieces and your guitar playing will come alive.

Here is one such piece that isn’t the easiest, but it isn’t too hard for a 1st fingerpicking piece either: Falling slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. And if you’d like to get started on a more classical route – check out ‘Giuliani Studies’ – these are technical fingerstyle studies that have existed for so long that are now available for free! And they contain chords and techniques still used to this day.

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 guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

The journey of any guitarist begins by deciding what type of guitar you want to start with and that can be a tough decision. Of course, you can start with any type of guitar, and once you know the basics you can switch and decide which is the best fit. But it is always good to know what you are dealing with in advance. We already covered most types of acoustic and electric guitar, so now it is time for the classical guitar.

Most guitarists start on an acoustic or classical guitar, because an acoustic is a little less harsh on the fingers and a very simple pick-up-and-play option. You don’t need an amplifier to hear the sound properly and they are often cheaper than electric guitars.

For some beginner guitarists (and advanced as well) it is hard to tell the difference between an acoustic and a classical guitar. So let’s clear that up. 

Classical guitar

Acoustic guitar

Here are the key differences between the two:

1. Fretboard

The fretboard of a classical guitar is a lot wider than that of an acoustic. Quite often classical guitars will not have the fret markers (dots or inlays) along the fingerboard either.

2. Body Shape

Acoustic guitars often come in a dreadnought shape which is considerably larger than that of a classical guitar and cutaways where you have access to the higher frets on classical guitars are rather rare.

3. Bridge

A classic wrap-around bridge is used on a standard classical guitar. On this type of guitar, the strings are tied in a knot around the bridge to secure them in place. But classical bridges also accept ball-end classical strings. In contrast, the bridge on an acoustic guitar has pegs that securely hold the strings in place via their ball-ends.

4. Strings

Both these guitars are in fact acoustic guitars, except one uses nylon strings (classical) and the other uses steel strings (acoustic), hence the modern acoustic ones are often referred to as a “steel string acoustic”. The nylon strings of a classical guitar are a lot thicker and mellower or softer sounding than those of a steel string. Some nylon string guitars are also not considered to be ‘classical’, however, to differentiate between them would be a whole other topic. Let us know if you’d like us to cover that one as well.

5. Tuning Pegs

The mechanics of the tuning peg on a classical guitar are quite different to those on an acoustic guitar.  Usually, on a classical guitar, the tuning peg is made of plastic and metal, whereas on an acoustic guitar the whole tuning peg is made out of metal.

6. Price

Often classical guitars are a little cheaper than their acoustic cousins, which is why many beginners start with a classical guitar first.

The best thing you can do is try as many guitars as you can and see which style is best for you and the music you like to play. Go to the local musical store and spend a good amount of time there or ask guitarist friends of yours to have a strum at their guitar. And don’t get overwhelmed – there are indeed thousands of guitars out there, but you will be able to feel which ones are right for you.

If you would like to read further a very detailed explanation about the nature of classical guitars, check this article.

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

Since you are here, chances are the thought of becoming a guitarist has popped up in your mind not once or twice. We are not here to convince you to embark on the journey on the spot – just state some facts, that inevitably will do so. Check them out and see for yourself if you would be interested in benefiting from all of them (and actually plenty more) while learning the guitar!

1. Exercises your brain

Concentration and memory are two things you use in all areas of life so their constant development is much needed. Playing the guitar is an extremely enjoyable way of improving them – yeah some people also enjoy doing math exercises, but do they really? As you spend more time focusing on different guitar exercises or songs, you’ll find that your ability to focus on other tasks outside of playing music will increase as well.

2. Improves fine motor skills

If you’ve ever tried to learn how to use chopsticks, you’ll know how difficult it is to coordinate your fingers. Learning how to play the guitar is kind of like that, but about a thousand times more difficult. Just like picking up a new sport, learning to play the guitar greatly improves your hand-eye coordination as it requires very specific movements. The best part about improving your motor skills from playing music is that it translates to other activities like knitting, martial arts, and sports.

3. Еnhances your creativity

Whether it’s writing original material or reworking a song for a cover, the guitar is going to unleash your creativity. Since you are thinking of learning exactly the guitar you must find it inspiring and exactly that inspiration will boost your imagination. Who knows, you might even surprise yourself. 

4. Provides emotional release

Probably the most enjoyable aspect of playing the guitar is the happiness that comes from expressing yourself through music. The free expression found in creating music is linked to many health benefits – playing the guitar can also lower blood pressure, decrease your heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression.

5. Boosts your confidence

Learning to play the guitar can have an enormously positive effect on your self-esteem and confidence. As you learn to play, chances are you’ll end up playing in front of a family member, a mate, some potential bandmates or even an audience. Playing guitar in front of others, however scary at first, will build your confidence in expressing yourself publicly and sharing your creativity. 

6. Creates connections

It’s definitely possible to spend your entire musical journey jamming alone in your bedroom, but the best musical moments come from playing with others. Finding people to jam with can lead to meeting a ton of cool like-minded people. The shared experience of playing music together can also strip away a lot of psychological barriers and often leads to close and long-lasting relationships.

7. Increased appreciation of music

Once you know how music works and have tried to create it yourself nothing will ever be the same… Seeing, listening and thinking about how the notes fit together in your favorite songs played by beloved musicians of yours – you’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll enjoy music. 

‘Learning how to play an instrument, any instrument, will increase your ability to appreciate music on a deeper level of understanding and (I believe) emotional connection. This is because you can relate more to the music and the artist performing it.’ – Philip Quintas

8. The Cool Factor

Let’s be honest for a moment. Playing the guitar is just cool. A guitar player who is comfortable with the music they are playing simply radiates confidence. Naturally, that is going to look cool no matter the setting. Sure, learning guitar just to look cool is a bad way to go about this, but the fact remains that it’s an incredible feeling to play your creations in front of an audience in awe.

If you need more reasons, check out also these articles here, here and here. When you are ready to embark on your guitar journey – join Neli’s Guitar Family and subscribe to her YouTube channel! You can also sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!