Saturday, June 16, 2007

Acoustic Guitar Tips

Acoustic Guitar Tips
Here are a few free acoustic guitar tips every beginner will probably learn sooner or later. Some are harder to learn than others; forewarned is forearmed.

Acoustic guitar tip #1: You will never hear anybody say, "Gee, I wish we had more acoustic guitarists." It's not that no one likes us; it's just that half the world tries to learn it at some point, so there are usually a lot of them around in any musical situation. This is the primary reason the folk music boom eventually collapsed of its own weight - too many people who only knew three chords and five songs.

Acoustic (also electric) guitar tip #2: Learn to sing. You're going to have to, eventually, so you might as well do it right. Singing makes you more versatile/valuable as a player (see lesson #1), plus it's very satisfying once you get the hang of it. You'll have more fun and get more work and more dates. Bad voice? Doesn't matter. Listen to a Grateful Dead record and you'll feel better right away. Learn to sing.

Acoustic guitar tip #3: Give picks a chance. Fingernails are great if you play by yourself. If you play with anyone else, you'll have to play louder; you'll break a nail every time, and then you won't be able to play right until it grows back. So consider picks for when you have company. This may mean two different techniques, since fingerpicks, flatpicks, and no picks all require different picking hand positions. It's worth it, though, because there's nothing like playing music with other people.

Acoustic guitar tip #4: Buy a capo. Capos help if you've learned a song in G but you need to sing it in B flat. They also let you sparkle up a set list or an arrangement by playing a different section of the neck. You can play G, C and D in first position all night, or you can capo at 5 and play D, G and A for a while. Sounding different is good; remember lesson #1. (Sounding good is good, too; pick up a tuner when you buy your capo)

Acoustic guitar tip #5: Tops crack. Your acoustic guitar is more sensitive to temperature and humidity changes than almost anything else you own. It may give you some warning that it's unhappy, and then, again, it may just warp or crack. All those warnings you hear about hot dry heated air, car trucks and direct sunlight are for real. (Add a humidifier to your shopping list)

Acoustic guitar tip #6: Don't buy a dreadnaught if you're 5' 2". There are good-sounding instruments of all sizes. If your guitar is too big, your fingers won't be able to reach across the fingerboard with any strength; your right shoulder will get sore from reaching your arm across the body; you'll be wrestling the wood box instead of playing it. And don't be fooled by classical guitars with small bodies but wide necks. Be comfortable; this is fun!
You may never catch Tony Rice, but it won't hurt to chase him. Like just about everything, except watching TV, guitar playing has an upward spiral of fun and work: The more (and better) you work, the more (and better) fun you have, and the more (and better) fun you want, the more (and better) work you have to do to get there (and 'better' is better than 'more'.) It's not a race you have to be in - you may be happy with three chords and five songs - but it's a great ride.