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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 Greenbrae 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 Greenbrae, 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 Greenbrae, but even still it’s possible to find great sale.

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.

REPEAT

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.)

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How to Get the Perfect Electric Guitar Sound and Tone

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When it comes to buying a used electric guitar, you want to find the guitar that is right for you in terms of look, sound, price, ease of play, and comfort, just as you would shopping for a new electric guitar. The main difference is that used guitars come with a past, and if you aren't careful your future might include a junk guitar.

Experienced guitar players know what to look for when buying a used guitar, but first time guitar buyers run the risk of making a bad purchase if they aren't prepared.

Used guitars for sale at a local music store tend to be far less risky than buying a used guitar from a stranger, especially if the store that has established as a fair and honest business. If a business has spent years of hard work building up trust and good reputation with its customers, it isn't likely to be selling them second-hand electric guitars that are in poor condition.

With strangers, there is no pre-existing trust. While there are many honest people out there selling used electric guitars in good condition, there are many who aren't honest. That's why power and protection come with knowledge. If you are buying a used electric guitar for the first time - from a stranger, a music store or wherever, -- prepare yourself ahead of time with the following tips and decrease the chances you walk away with a bad purchase.

As you read the tips below, keep in mind that some problems like intonation or slight bowing occur in virtually every guitar at some point. Fortunately getting an electric guitar serviced is usually under $50 and includes minor adjustments to the neck, frets, action, and intonation if needed. As a rule of thumb, any time you buy a used electric guitar, it's a good idea to have it serviced, whether you get it from a store or a stranger.

That said, the tips.

1. Check the guitar for cracks, especially along the neck and the area between the neck and the head, which is the weakest spot on an electric guitar. Cracks in the finish are cosmetic and aside from their unsightliness, not a big concern. Structural cracks could result in the neck completely breaking. Finish cracks can run in any direction, but structural cracks tend to follow the grain of the wood and may fissure.

Scratches, dents and wear to the finish are normal: the guitar is used after all. Just take a look at the finish on Bruce Springsteen's Fender Telecaster or Stevie Ray Vaughn's Fender Stratocaster. Or should I say what finish? Unless such flaws bother you aesthetically, they don't pose a problem.

2. Sight check the guitar's neck to make sure it isn't warped or bowed. The quickest way to do this is to hold the guitar at eye-level, once with the guitar's body closest to you and again with the neck head closest to you, and look down either side of the neck. It should be straight. If the guitar neck is slightly bowed or warped, adjusting the truss rod should fix the problem and absent any other problems, isn't a major concern. In fact, it's a common problem. If the warping or bowing is pronounced and has been that way for some time, the neck may need to be replaced.

3. Check the intonation. This is problematic for beginner guitar players who haven't yet learned how to play harmonics. Just play a harmonic at the 12 fret and then on the same string, play the note at the 12 fret and compare. If one sounds higher or lower than the other, the intonation is off. Do this for every string. For accuracy, it's best to use a guitar tuner to compare.

4. Check the action. A guitar's action is measured from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret. For electric guitar, standard action is 6/64 in. on the sixth string and 4/64 in. on the first string You won't be able to judge this with your eye, so just be aware the strings should not touch the frets, nor should they be so high it hurts your hand to fret the notes.

5. The strings should not rattle, buzz, or mute when played, no matter if the guitar is plugged or unplugged. Make sure none of the frets are loose.

6. Plug in the guitar to test the pick-ups and the pick-up selector switch as well as the tone and volume knobs. There shouldn't be any pops or humming, nor should the sound cut in and out.

7. Ask the seller how long he's owned the guitar and if he bought it new or used.

8. Ask if the guitar is still under warranty, and if so, is that warranty transferable.

9. Ask the seller if any work has been done on the guitar, and if so, why.

10. After you've arranged to see the guitar, research the make and model. Is it still available or has it been discontinued? Check out customer reviews. Search e-bay, Craigslist, and other classified venues to see if anyone else is selling the same make and model and for how much. This will help you determine if the seller's asking price is too much (time to negotiate), too little (it does happen) or at market value.

11. Finally, remember what I said in the first tip. Used electric guitars are going to show varying degrees of wear and tear and may require minor adjustments. If you find a used electric guitar that has no major problems and feels and plays like it belongs in your hands, buy it!

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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.

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