Showing posts with label Acoustic Guitar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acoustic Guitar. Show all posts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Beginning ACOUSTIC GUITAR

So you have decided the acoustic guitar is the instrument for you. What are the first steps to take to get your guitar playing off to a flying start?  How about we cover the really basic stuff here, like what kind of music will I be playing? Am I aiming to be a professional guitarist? What type of amplifier do acoustic guitar players use, and what strings are best for which genre of music?

After we have covered these topics you will have a clear idea of the way ahead in your guitar playing career.



Right, so what is your acoustic guitar repertoire going to consist of? Which music attracted you to the acoustic guitar should really be your guide here. The most obvious acoustic genre for many people is folk music. This genre really took off as a form of popular music in the 1960's and now there's a tremendous volume of material for you to choose from. A lot of musicians who are interested in singing ballads go for the acoustic guitar because it's so easy to pick up the instrument and go ahead and sing. Providing your guitar is in tune of course. But in general the acoustic guitar is a great companion for the ballad singer because it won't compete with your vocals.

While we are on the subject of repertoire, don't forget the acoustic guitar is ideal for singing your own simple arrangements of popular songs from many styles of music. Two examples of rock and roll songs that were hits all over again as acoustic ballads are "Layla" by Eric Clapton and "Light My Fire" originally recorded by The Doors, and reworked by Jose Feliciano.

To let your audience hear your playing, you can choose to amplify your guitar by simply playing into a microphone as classical or flamenco guitarists do, or make use of a pickup and an amplifier. The question of which amp to use is a matter for experimentation and talking it over with more experienced guitarists. Generally speaking you wouldn't need any kind of effects for acoustic guitar music; it just needs to have the volume to reach your audience in a restaurant or hall. So just bear in mind you are looking for a nice clear sound from your amp to help carry your vocals rather than set up shop in competition with them.



The choice of strings for the beginner acoustic guitarist is a no-brainer. Learn on nylon strings till your fingers are toughened up. You will form callouses on the tips of your fingers during the first few weeks of playing, after that you can start on a steel string guitar if you wish without slicing your fingers. Regarding the sound of the different kinds of strings, nylon will give you a mellow, unobtrusive sound, and steel strings have a sharper sound which demands attention from the audience. This can augment your vocals and enable you to do solos if you want to.

Now you have got the basic topics covered all that's left for you to do is enjoy your journey as an acoustic guitar player.




Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Nylon String ACOUSTIC GUITAR

Playing an acoustic guitar. The guitar is a Harley Benton (HBF20CE/TS); an Ovation clone, that is. (A friend of mine plays the guitar on a dock by a lake, in front of a summer cottage at Mäntyharju, 


Playing an acoustic guitar. The guitar is a Ha...
Finland in July, 2004.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The nylon string acoustic guitar has a softer, mellower sound than the steel string guitar. Strangely, modern audiences can still be spellbound by the depth of feeling of a nylon string guitar.  It's entirely up to you which one you choose to play. I could cite a list of artists who used either nylon or steel string for this or that record, and make a wild guess or two at why the artists made the choices they did, but the bottom line is that if you want a deep, quiet sound that doesn't compete with your singing, the nylon string guitar is the way to go.

When you go out to buy a guitar, go past the general music store and on to your local guitar dealer if you have one. That way you will have a guitar expert guiding you and not some dufus who only plays two-and-a-half chords. Don't let the guy in the store automatically steer you to the top-of-the-range guitars, and equally don't succumb to your inner cheapskate. Pick a guitar that you like the look, sound and feel of, then come down in price range if you really need to.

To get some idea of the range you could be looking at, the Alvarez Masterworks Series MC90 Classical Guitar, a more pricey instrument, has solid rosewood back and sides, western cedar top with precision scalloped bracing, mosaic rosette and gold tuning pegs with tortoise buttons and sells for over $600. The Alvarez Regent, a beginner's model, is about $150. Of course there are many grades of price and quality in between.

The kinds of music that the nylon string guitar was designed for are classical and flamenco music. Classical guitar music is classical music composed for other instruments but arranged for the guitar, and classical style pieces composed especially for the guitar or other stringed instruments. There is a wide repertoire of music composed in the medieval or renaissance eras for the vihuela or mandolin and arranged for the guitar which can be extremely enjoyable and satisfying to play. Flamenco music is a folk music of Spain, and is usually comparatively technically advanced simply due to flamenco being a "flashy" kind of music. If you are interested in exploring either of these kinds of music I suggest you go to YouTube and check out the classical or flamenco guitar videos. John Williams (the British guitarist, not the Starwars guy) and Julian Bream are two obvious starting points for classical guitar. Paco De Lucia, Paco Pena and Sabicas will open your heart to flamenco.

We can't finish without mentioning the nylon string guitar-driven folk music boom of the 1960's which has given us a lot of great music which can be easily picked up by beginner guitarists. The music of Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Joan Baez or The Kingston Trio still holds some interest for modern guitarists.

So that is an overview of the world of the nylon string guitar. I hope you have found something to spark your interest.




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ACOUSTIC GUITAR Tab

"Di Giorgio classic guitar", model &...
"Di Giorgio classic guitar", model "Amazonia"
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
If you enjoy the idea of learning the guitar and you visualize yourself sitting down and playing your favorite songs for your own enjoyment, acoustic guitar tabs give you the possibility of realizing your dream. You can pick up an acoustic guitar any time of the day or night and play without disturbing your family or neighbors. Some people even play the acoustic guitar while the family is watching TV in the same room!

Tablature, or tab, is the ideal way for any beginner guitar player to learn or for a more seasoned guitarist to learn new material quickly. A basic definition of guitar tab is a diagram showing the guitar strings with the frets where the guitarist is to play the notes indicated by numbers. Quite often a guitarist approaching a new piece of music will struggle with conventional music notation whereas tab is a quick and easy way of getting the feel of a new piece. 

Also a pianist or other musician can look at a piece of guitar sheet music and play it right away but would have no hope of playing from guitar tab because it is only written for one instrument. Another limitation of guitar tab is that you won't be able to learn the rhythm from it. You will need a strumming pattern diagram or, having heard the song before, have some idea of how to approach the playing of the rhythm. If you are prepared to live with these limitations tablature will be a great tool for you to learn your favorite songs quickly.

When you search the internet for acoustic guitar tab what kind of music can you expect to find? Well, the variety is astonishing. Basically acoustic guitar tab is written with the idea of the guitar supplying the basic accompaniment for the song. So if you are a singer wanting to interpret the lyrics, your interest in the guitar arrangement may be slight. The second thing acoustic guitar tab usually gives you is the notes for any distinctive melody or riff in the song - music that people recognize before they hear the words being sung.  A simple example of this is the few notes repeated throughout the record of "Something" by The Beatles. Of course you are quite free to leave out or change any music to make the arrangement your own.



Acoustic guitar tabs are often fingerstyle arrangements of songs. These arrangements will not be readily available in music stores or the usual sources of sheet music on the internet. Fingerstyle arrangements can give you some added depth to your guitar playing even if you don't utilize all the techniques shown in the tab. Finally there is one advantage to using acoustic tab for electric guitar players. You can learn the muisc for the song without having to set up your guitar and amp. You can work on arranging your song for electric guitar once you know the chords and the basic structure.

I hope I have given you something to think about if you have not given tabs for acoustic guitar much of a look so far. If you look around you will be quite amazed at the range of popular - and obscure - music available.



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Classical Gas - An Enigma Of Modern Music

Classical Gas is one of the most requested and most familiar instrumental pieces of all time. In an episode of The Simpsons called "Last Exit to Springfield" Homer leads the workers of the nuclear power plant in a strike to recover their lost dental plan. While they picket the plant, Lisa plays a bleak worker's song. As she finishes, Lenny shouts, "Play Classical Gas". Lisa plays the guitar and everybody watching the episode on TV goes, "Oh, yeah, THAT tune!" Classical Gas is always asked for whenever a bunch of people and a nylon string acoustic guitar are in the same room. It is not really a great technical showcase for finger style guitarists but it is a great vehicle to show off the sound of the classical guitar.

Mason Williams - Wikipedia
Classical Gas was released into the world in 1968. A song by The Doors prevented it from turning into a number one hit but it remained in the second place for two weeks. Forty years later it is still among the most familiar tunes of all time and, along with The Anonymous Romance and Leucona's Malaguena regarded as an essential element of the classical guitar repertoire. And nobody can say why.

The impact of Classical Gas is way more than the sum of its parts. There are very few musical ideas in the tune. It is mainly repetition of a theme made up of a few notes. There are a few parts that are unforgettable "surprises" making use of syncopation, scales, strums, and abrupt time signature changes. Somehow all the bits link together like pearls on a necklace, and the final note adds a sublime resolution.

The composer, Mason Williams, states on his website, "I didn't really have any big plans for it, other than maybe to have a piece to play at parties when they passed the guitar around. I envisioned it as simply repertoire or "fuel" for the classical guitar, so I called it Classical Gasoline." Mason Williams' day job was as a comedy writer and stand-up comedian who had lots of other projects besides writing a classical guitar instrumental.

It was Mason Williams' work on the Smothers Brothers' "Comedy Hour" which gave him the opportunity to have his pet composition heard by the American public. The original score of the piece shows only chords and a few notes. Mason Williams had a twenty-three year old composer named Mike Post finish off the arrangement.

At the Grammys it won Best Instrumental Composition and Best Instrumental Performance for Mason Williams and Best Instrumental Arrangement for Mike Post who has had a career full of triumphs in the field of TV theme music. His latest victory is the theme(s) for the "Law And Order" series.



Classical Gas has been employed as the theme music for several news programs, the background music for the Apollo 4 movie, and featured in a number of other movies and TV shows. Many people have mistakenly attributed Mason Williams' solo version of the tune for a cover by Eric Clapton.

Classical Gas is quite an easy piece to play, the challenge is to play it with passion and dynamics because it appears to non-guitarists, more difficult to play than it really is. Maybe this is the reason it is among the most requested guitar pieces ever.




Monday, March 7, 2016

HOME STUDIO RECORDING Tips - Recording Smooth ACOUSTIC GUITAR Inexpensivley

Recording acoustic guitar is a bigger problem than electric. If you have read my tutorials on electric guitar recording you can really just use an sm57 microphone, spend some time positioning the mic, get the tone you want from your amp, then press record. However, recording acoustic guitar definitely creates some additional problems.

Fanny + Alexander's Home Studio : www.fannyale...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First problem is the microphone. Usually a dynamic microphone is not really well suited to this. However I have gotten some pretty good sounds using an old Electro Voice PL80 especially when coupled with a cloudlifter. But a cloudlifter costs about as much as a cheap large diaphragm microphone, so I would go for the mic instead. Besides you can use it for the vocals later. Since we are doing this for cheap try to not spend more than $150.00.

Most people use the cordoid setting for guitar or vocals, but since this is very low budget, and yet we want the biggest fullest sound - you have to try the omni setting, but do it with some sense. Try different rooms in your house to record the part. You might have to play samples of the part many times facing different ways in a room, but it will be worth it if you can find a good area where sound is reflected around in just the right way. In desperation you can even try the bathroom, which will give you lots of reverb. Don't be afraid to take your time and experiment, remember every time you go over the part it is going to get better and better. Also remember the part must be tracked to metronome or some kind of percussion track generally I use a live drum set.

Now just as with electric guitar you must double track the acoustic guitar, however this needs to be approached in a more careful fashion. First, if you are doing a strumming part, try to get a lightly different sound by using a different room, changing the setting on the mic, or move the mic closer a bit or further away. Be careful though of the proximity issue though, this can help or hurt and sometimes mere inches can be the difference between a good sound and a great sound. Make sure you play the part exactly like the first part!



Second keep the track with the most mid tones to come right down the middle, while the track with the most highs should be split with maybe no more than a 12 ms delay, eight would probably be better. You can also run similar sounds panned one side to the left and one side to the right to fill out a part in the mix. If the main part is a finger-picked part then the "double" should be a different part, less busy, and played in a higher register. Even single notes inside the chord works well and will fill out the sound considerably without taking away from the finger-picked structure that you have taken great pains to create. Remember the key is to get the fullest sound possible while using the fewest instruments as possible so that your tracks can "breath" and have "space" for the vocals.