Sign up for our email newsletter and free lessons:   Email    First Name   

Guitar Playing Tips for February 2010

February 1st, 2010 by Jeff Vivrette

Welcome to my guitar playing tips for February 2010!

Each month I will be providing you some guitar playing tips that will help you become a better guitar player.  Although the tips may be short, they are very powerful and I strongly encourage you to read them over several times and begin using them.

Let’s get started!

Guitar Playing Tip #1 – “Which Pic To Pick?”

There is more to picking than just gripping the pic between your fingers and using it to strike the strings. Picking technique includes an enormous amount of different skills that must be studied, practiced, refined and mastered in order to truly get the benefits of exceptional picking.

The way you pick, as well as the type of pic you use, not only has an effect on your ability to execute something on your guitar, it also changes the tone of your guitar. In order to get the desired result from your picking technique, you need to use the correct pic. Most people decide to use a thin pic to compensate for poor picking technique because they believe a thin pic will offer less resistance when picking and will make it easier to pick the strings.

This is far from being the solution to their problem!

Having the pic glide effortlessly through the strings while still producing a good, solid, controlled tone requires a thick, rigid pic and proper technique. In fact, the thicker the pic the easier it is to produce a good tone. Most people will choose a pic based on the description “Thin-Medium-Heavy”. If this is you, then you should select a “Heavy” pic. For those of you that select pic thickness using millimeters, I suggest 1.0mm or more.

This may seem thick at first but as you learn correct picking technique, it will not feel thick at all. I have recently switched to a pic that is 2.5mm thick and I am getting the best guitar tones in my life!

Pick up some thick pics today and give yourself time to get used to it. Experiment with different shapes and materials and see which one works best for you.

Guitar Playing Tip #2 – “Making Your Guitar Play The Way It Should”

You may find this hard to believe, but if you were to ask me what the first thing you should do after buying a brand new $3000 guitar, I would tell you to take it straight to a qualified guitar mechanic on your way home from the guitar shop and have him set it up. I know that sounds crazy. But almost every guitar that comes from the factory is not set-up to play its best.

Usually the action (height from string to fret) is way too high, the nut is not the right height, the intonation is off, the frets are not level and there could even be unseen problems with the guitar that need to be addressed. A qualified guitar mechanic (Luthier) will be able to take care of this for you and it worth every penny!

A “Luthier” is an expert in the field of guitar repair and modifications. Not every person that claims to be an expert guitar repair person is a “Luthier”. In fact, they make up a small percentage of the number of people that really just work on guitars. I have a very good Luthier that I take my guitars too and that I recommend my students too.

That new guitar of yours will play better than you could ever imagine after taking it to a Luthier. It really does make that much of a difference.

Taking your current guitar to a Luthier for a set-up should be part of your regular maintenance. How many times per year you need to take it for a set-up depends on a lot of things. But I would suggest you take it for a set-up at least twice a year. Changing weather and temperatures can dramatically affect the way your guitar plays.

When doing a “set-up”, the luthier will do things like:
Adjust the action
Level and crown the frets
Adjust the intonation
Adjust the nut height
Adjust the neck relief
and more…

Some of these terms may have went right over your head and that’s even more of a reason for you to take your guitar to a Lutheir so he can make your guitar play the way it should. Playing your guitar will be much more fun; it will stay in tune better and sound better. Make an appointment with your Luthier today!

Guitar Playing Tip #3 – “When You’re Not Sure if a Chord Is Major or Minor”

So you’re playing with a group of other musicians and you’re trying to just improvise or play through a song and you’re not really familiar with the chord changes. You may not know if a chord being played is supposed to be a “major chord” or a “minor chord”.

So how do you pull this off when there’s no time to stop and talk?

Play “Power Chords”!

Power chords are not major or minor because they don’t contain the “third” of the chord. The third of the chord is what defines it as major or minor. When you play a power chord you are playing a chord that contains a root (or first) and a fifth and no third. This will let you play an “A” power chord over a chord that is minor or major and still sound good.

This will get you through the song without sounding like an amateur. Even if you are an amateur!

Well that’s it for this month!

If you would like to find out how you can take guitar lessons and Vivrette Guitar Academy and learn more about these topics and more, just contact me here!