The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Bard without hearing it is one such change. But keep a few things in mind when you do it and it can be a convenient way to score a good instrument at a good price.
There’s really two kinds of people who should be buying their guitars in Bard, experts or really serious guitar players and beginners. The first group knows exactly what kind of guitar they want, and at that level of price and quality they can be assured that that particular guitar will be terrific. Beginners don’t really care as much, so long as it has six strings and can play. The truth is each guitar is unique as its made out of a particular sheet of wood that experiences conditions unlike any of its fellow models at the factory. Each sheet is alive, and guitars can age with grace or misery depending on how they’re maintained. This needs to be kept in mind when looking at a store in Bard, but even still it’s possible to find great sale.
The most obvious advantage the guitar has over other instruments is its portability. Unlike a baby grand piano, you can easily pack your guitar around on your shoulder in a carrying case. I bought my first guitar when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a Stella, purchased for twenty-nine dollars from George Porcella, the proprietor of Porcella's Music Store in Gilroy, California. Since then, I have owned, sold, traded, pawned or lost a dozen or so more.
My love for the guitar soared in 1978 when I first heard world-renown classical guitar master Andres Segovia's The Intimate Guitar album. I listened to it on the recommendation of a teacher I had just begun taking classical lessons from in Santa Cruz. Capitalizing on the guitar's ability to produce both melodic and harmonic sound, Segovia was able to make his guitar sound like two separate instruments. In addition to being the world's most recognized classical performer, Segovia did much throughout his life to increase the popularity of his beloved instrument. He produced instruction books and materials, transcribed classical music to fit the guitar and held concerts, seminars and workshops throughout the world.
Prior to that time I began studying classical guitar, I had been able to play folk and country songs in the style of Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson using three simple chords. My newly learned music theory, coupled with a more developed ear, opened up a new world of learning and enjoyment for me. The right and left hand techniques used in guitar playing gave my body a better sense of balance and integration than playing a wind or brass instrument.
The guitar offers players the opportunity to experiment with techniques and create different styles and picking patterns, from Flamingo to Travis picking. Likewise, you can change and invent new musical styles by changing the type or thickness of your strings. You can also change guitar types from a classical nylon string, to a steel string acoustic. Electric pick-ups as well as electric guitars with amps and foot pedal attachments allow the player to increase volume and add special sound effects. Guitars can be played with a pick or with a variety of finger-pickings styles.
Still, the guitar has other has advantages too. Unlike most brass and wind instruments, you can play complex four, five and six note chords on a guitar. Although the use of a capo is frowned on by classical players, its use in other styles gives players the unique ability to quickly change keys to adjust to a singers vocal range or preferences.
This versatile instrument is also one of the few you hold over your heart. To the serious player like myself, this not only enhances the tone you produce from the strings, but makes your playing one with your voice.
The Guitar's Advantages Over Other Instruments
There are many bits on an acoustic guitar that can rattle against each other to make a buzzing noise. Most can be easily fixed once you become aware of them but tracking that guitar buzz down can be a problem if you don't know where to look.
The first place to look for the cause of buzzing guitar is the guitar player. If you are not pressing down on the strings with the correct amount of pressure, the strings will buzz or sound muffled. This might not be entirely your fault if the guitar's action is too low. If the strings are too close to the frets you will get a buzz that no amount of pressure on the strings will fix.
To fix low action on an acoustic guitar is a matter of going to a guitar store and getting a bridge bone that will lift the strings higher. If the notches in the guitar nut are too deep this will also cause buzzing but that is the least likely cause unless someone deliberately cut the notches deeper. If the slots in the nut are too wide, this will also cause a buzz. A quick fix for low action is a match stick slipped under the bridge bone. If you find the guitar too hard to play now, it's because you have made the action too high.
If the guitar is old, you may have frets that are too worn. This will make the strings buzz against the higher frets. All the frets on the guitar need to be the same height.
If you are using strings that have balls on the ends, check that the balls are tight up against the bridge. If you find one that is not, unwind the string and reset the ball so it is snug. The loose ends of nylon strings can also buzz against the bridge so if you have a classical style guitar, check the ends of the strings lying against the bridge.
The machine heads - the tuners at the top of the neck - can become loose with age, rattle around. It is probably best to not get involved in repairing them. Just buy a new set.
If you have checked all these parts without identifying the cause of the buzz, take your guitar to a luthier or a local guitar dealer to get it checked out. Sometimes there can be loose parts on an acoustic guitar that are not readily accessible that might need some guitar surgery to fix.
When I started to play the guitar, I did things the hard way, trying to play chords and play songs. It was frustrating because my fingers just couldn't find the right position to make the guitar sound good.
Since then, I've learned how to get started playing the guitar that's much faster and much easier and I'm going to show you how you can play the guitar right away.
I love playing the guitar! I'm self-taught until a few years ago when I started working a music teacher. I bought my first guitar in 1989. But it's only been in the past five years that I've really focused on playing the guitar well. And now, I'm pretty good. I can jam with good musicians and I can sit down and entertain myself for hours with my guitar.
Today, I'd rather play guitar than watch TV. Here's why: after watching TV, I'm relaxed and I've wasted an hour. After playing guitar, I'm relaxed and I'm an improved guitar player.
A DIFFERENT WAY: FORGET THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR
How I got to play today was a different route from the way most guitar teachers teach guitar. Most guitarists start out with an inexpensive acoustic guitar and immediately try to play songs with chords.
Here's the problem: cheap acoustic guitars are very hard for a first time guitarist to play. The strings are too thick. The neck is too big. Your fingers don't have the strength to get a good sound.
The truth is, most beginning guitar players have a cheap acoustic guitar lying around somewhere in the house. And that inexpensive guitar is keeping them from being a guitar player.
So don't start off with a cheap acoustic guitar, take a different approach.
ELECTRIC GUITAR TO THE RESCUE
It's better to start playing with a good electric guitar. This will get you going quickly and comfortably to inspire you to keep practicing until you're good enough to play with other musicians.
Go to a guitar store, such as Guitar Center and pick up a used electric guitar for about $300. That's the price where you can get a decent guitar that that will play well and sound good. A professional guitar shop will make sure the guitar "action" is adjusted to play easily. I suggest you forget about the "starter guitars" because they're usually not easy to play.
I don't recommend buying a used guitar from anyone other than a professional guitar shop. You don't know enough about guitars to be able to pick one out that you can play well. The guitar shop wants your business for the rest of your life as a musician, so they'll make sure you get what you need.
Most people start with an acoustic guitar because they don't need a guitar amplifier to play. Because electric guitars need a guitar amplifier that doubles the cost of getting started.
That's not a problem today because you can run your electric guitar through your iPhone, iTouch, or iPad and get guitar effects worth thousands of dollars for $30 (more about this in another post). You can even get a guitar tuner ap for your mobile device for a dollar.
You'll pay more for a cheap guitar tuner for your acoustic guitar then for the cool guitar applications. Just plug in your headphones and you'll think that you're playing in front of a cranked Marshall stack.
FORGET THE CHORDS
Before you try to make her fingers contort into positions called guitar chords, get your hands strong.
Strengthen your hands by just playing scales. I know, that sounds boring! Yet if you will sit down with your guitar for 15 minutes a day and teach your fingers how to move, in two weeks you'll have much more finger strength, dexterity, and control to easily form guitar chords. If you don't do this, you're going to be frustrated and stop playing the guitar. This is what it takes to play guitar fast.
STRONG FINGERS FROM SCALES
You don't have to play standard scales, all you have to do is move your fingers to make them respond to your mental commands, getting stronger in the process.
Start with your hand at the neck of the guitar and your fingers on the biggest string (that's the E string), and pluck the string while pushing down on the string with your finger, but only hard enough to get a clean sound. This is called fretting the string and it does cause many new guitarists to "fret" about playing the guitar.
With your thumb behind the guitar neck about in the position where it is behind your middle finger, clamped down on the string. You don't have to squeeze the neck, only press hard enough so that the string rests on the metal fret and makes a nice clean sound when you pick it lightly.
Start with your index finger, then to your middle finger, then to your ring finger, then to your pinky, and reverse the direction. Go slowly, making sure that you have a nice clean tone for each string.
Then move to the next string, and repeat. Move to the next string and repeat until you've gotten to the smallest string.
Then starting with your pinky, moved to your ring finger, and so forth so that you practice moving your fingers up and down, and down and up. Work your way back down to the big string.
Move your hand up a fret and repeat the process until you get all the way up to the 12th fret, that's where there usually is a double dot as a fret market.
Now reverse the direction and go back down until you go to the get to the first fret.
That's enough for the first round of exercises.
Do this for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. Over two weeks your fingers will gain strength and you'll increase the dexterity so your brain will know how to move each finger. Now you can start to comfortably form chords. (More on that in another article.)