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The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Castroville 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 Castroville, 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 Castroville, 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.

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Anyone who's owned a guitar that they wanted to protect knows that weather can be the enemy. Extreme hot and cold conditions can damage your guitar or your amp or any of your equipment. Professionals take certain precautions when they travel to ensure that their equipment survives the trip, along with the performers.

If you live in an area that gets severe weather, be it hot or cold, you need to know what to look out for to make sure that you don't ruin your favorite guitar or amp. It's possible for your guitar or amp to survive extreme conditions. I've seen guitars go through freezing conditions and still perform well. Let me give you a little info so that you know exactly what causes the damage.

In the case of your guitar or bass, the damage is going to come in the form of warping. Because our instruments are made of wood, they're susceptible to warping due to the qualities of the wood. When a piece of wood heats up and cools down, the wood expands and contracts with the heating and the cooling. What's liable to happen to your guitar is that it could heat up and cool down and warp. This is because the material will bend and flex as the guitar heats and cools and will become set in this new shape.

Guitars and basses have truss rods built into the neck for this very reason. It's expected that over the lifetime of a guitar, some degree of warping is going to occur. Unfortunately we live on Earth, and Earth has weather. But you can take certain precautions when handling your gear to make sure this doesn't happen to any extreme extent.

The one thing that is going to ensure damage is heating and cooling quickly. When the heating and cooling process happens quickly, the warping effect is magnified, as the instrument will no have time to adjust and retain its original shape over the change. For people who live in extreme weather, you'll want to note this and make sure that the environment that you store your guitar is generally statically maintained. If you're going to run the AC, then run it. If you're not, then don't. It's best to keep things as uniform as possible.

It's completely possible for you to live in extreme weather, and not heat or cool your instrument and not sustain any severe damage. Another trick is to keep your guitar in a case if you're going to store it for long periods of time or travel with it. If you store it or travel, just make sure that when you pull your guitar out to play, that it's had time to adjust to the environment and change temperatures before you pull it out of the case. By storing it in the case and allowing it to change temperatures inside the case, you're controlling the temperature change. It's going to take much longer for the outside temperatures to warm up the exterior of the case and penetrate all the way to the guitar or bass. The reverse is also true. If the entire case is one uniform temperature, heat is going to be gradually expelled from the inside out. The outermost areas of the case will cool first, followed by the loss of heat from the middle of the case where the guitar is. This will happen gradually and help protect your guitar.

As for your other equipment, the electronics in your amp and boards, the damage is more likely to come from condensation and things like that that can damage the circuitry. You also have a concern about cracking and breaking of the internal component due to extreme weather. This is avoided much in the same way as with your guitar. Make sure that it's stored in a place that's going to receive the same treatment throughout the day, whether cooled or not. Storage in a case or protective cover will help protect the equipment, and there are some storage containers you can find that will keep moisture out, helping to prevent it from damaging your electronics.

While weather can be the enemy, knowing how to deal with it will help to protect your valuable instruments for years to come. It's not difficult and using a little common sense, you can ensure your guitar will play the same throughout your lifetime.

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There are many different ways that you can get lessons that will help you teach yourself guitar. There are guitar magazines, dvd's, cd's, books, tablature, online membership sites, teachers and probably a dozen other methods that I haven't even thought of. One of the oldest and most popular ways is the use of guitar magazines. You can find many of these magazines at your local bookstore, grocery store or corner/convenience store. Most of them will contain lessons, gear reviews, album reviews, interviews with guitar players and some even throw in a cd or dvd that have video lessons and gear demonstrations. If you really like a particular guitar magazine, subscriptions are available at discounted yearly or more rates.

So which one is the best? Well that depends on a few things:

1. Where you are in your guitar playing? Beginner, intermediate or advanced?

2. What style of music are you into? Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Country etc.?

3. What do you want more of in your guitar magazine? Tabs, lessons, gear reviews?

Before you go running off to your local magazine stand to look for a magazine that's right for you, check out the following list that I have put together for you of 3 of the best guitar magazines that are available today. Please keep in mind that these are my choices of the top 3 and depending on your taste, you may think another publication is better. But at least this list will give you a head start and you don't have to thumb through every magazine on the rack.

Guitar World:

Guitar World is one of the most popular monthly magazines on the market and contains guitar and bass tablature of around five songs per issue. The lessons are directed at beginner and intermediate players and most of the lessons, tabs and interviews are in the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal genres. The subscriptions are available at a pretty hefty discount and you can also upgrade your subscription and get a bonus cd-rom with each magazine. These cd-roms will play video lessons, gear demonstrations and music from some amazing guitarists. For more information check out http://www.guitarworld.com.

Total Guitar:

Total guitar is a monthly magazine from the U.K. and is the most popular guitar magazine in Europe. This is in my opinion the best magazine for beginner guitarists. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of lessons for guitar players of all abilities but Total Guitar focuses mostly on the novice. The mag has a nice variety of tab for Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Punk, Country and Folk, so there is something for everyone. Another great thing about Total Guitar is that unlike most guitar magazines, they don't focus on articles and expensive gear but focus on teaching beginner guitar players how to play properly.

Each magazine also comes with a free cd that contains audio examples of the lessons and best of all, backing tracks for all the tabs. These backing tracks are great because they have the guitar parts missing so you can jam along with the song just like you were playing with the band.

The only downfall with this publication is that if you live outside of the U.K., expect to pay a lot for a subscription. Check out http://www.totalguitar.co.uk/ for more information.

Guitar Techniques:

Made by the same company that makes Total Guitar, Guitar Techniques is also a top-notch magazine. Guitar Techniques also has a massive amount of lessons that are spread out along many genres including Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Jazz and County. This magazine specializes in guitar instruction and it shows. You also get a cd with the backing tracks for the tabs and lesson examples.

You'll get everything from beginner tips to some more advanced soloing lessons. They also get right into the different styles or techniques of your favorite guitarists. They explain exactly what scales and techniques they use and how the artist gets their sound. They then give you examples tabbed out so you can learn exactly how to play it. For more information go to http://www.guitar-techniques.com/.

So there you have my list of the Top 3 Guitar Magazines that will help you teach yourself guitar. Hopefully it has made your choice a little easier. Now go get it and start shredding!

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