Blog Archives

Guitar Chords For Beginners

These are some of the most commonly used beginners chords.  You will often see these chords on sheet music and guitar tabs.  The chords are the same on acoustic and electric guitar.  The fingerings I have put on them are the ones I normally use and teach but feel free to use your own if you prefer.

Next: How to read guitar tab


Choosing a guitar cable

Guitarists are notoriously obsessive about their sound.  We spend hours, weeks, months, possibly years searching for the elusive sound we hear in our head.  We work hard, save our money, sign the credit agreement, for the latest megawatt all tube modelling digital amp. Endlessly search through magazines and the Internet looking for the perfect guitar and countless hours stomping on stomp boxes and editing patches all in pursuit of the perfect sound.  After spending all this time and money looking for the perfect equipment we then go down the local music store and buy a length of bell wire to connect it all together.

Having been playing for over 25 years ive been through a few guitar cables in my time. Can anyone remember the curly cables that used to stretch so far and then twang out the front of your amp or worse still pull your amp off the chair it was on.  I remember in the 80’s all cables had to be day glow yellow or vomit green.  How many times have you bought a cable with a lifetime guarantee that six months later fails mid gig.  Nowadays the ends are sealed so in the event of it breaking you can’t re solder the end.
This minor irritation was starting to become a major headache when, mid gig as usual, another cable bit the dust.  I then did something I should have done years ago.  A quick Internet search brought up a list of suppliers of quality cables and a few days later I had my shiny new cables.  Guitar cables DO affect your tone.  I could not  believe the difference when I cranked my amp up at the next rehearsal.  The sound was tighter, clearer, and much more punchier.  The cables are thicker than usual and the jacks feel much sturdier. 

The cables cost around £40 each which seems expensive but put this in to perspective. You spend £1000 on an amp and £1000 on a guitar so £40 to connect them together properly is not much.

So remember choose your cables carefully.  Find a lead that is of suitable quality to connect your hard earned instruments together and be prepared to spend a bit more time selecting cables.

It’s all in the details.

Why Learn Guitar Anyway?

There has never been a better time than now to take up the guitar.

My first electric guitar was a white strat copy.  At the time it was a reasonable quality beginners guitar.  The action was so high you could have driven a truck between them and the neck, the frets so flat it had a fret less feel to it, and tuning pegs that Arnie at his prime would have struggled with and I loved it.  The choice of beginners guitars was quite limited and amps were almost impossible to find at an affordable price.
My amplifier was a RSC combo 5.  Never seen another one like it. It was a 5 watt practice amp with an oval speaker.  I poked holes in the speaker as I heard this would make it distort. It did, but in a rubbish way.  I also used this as a bass amp, it distorted well enough with a bass plugged into it.  It finally died when I stuck a switched on soldering iron into the back of it in an attempt to re solder the speaker wire back on.  I had neglected to turn the amp off and when the iron hit a live wire it went bang.  Thankfully I survived.

This was replaced with a Carlsbro Cobra amplifier.  This was certainly a step up from my RSC as it had two gain controls and a parametric eq and would produce an almost respectable distortion.    It had one channel so a clean sound was produced by backing the guitars volume control off.  I kept this amp until I left music school and started getting some professional playing work when I replaced it with my first Mesa/Boogie.
My next guitar was a Washburn WP50 Les Paul purchased from spectre sound in Bingley.  This was a cool guitar.  I learned to play on this guitar by trying to figure out Mark Knopfler phrases off a old cassette recording of sultans of swing.  Even now my left shoulder is slightly lower than my right due to the hours stood practising with this heavy beast round my shoulder.

Next up came the Ibanez Jem which is still my mainstay.  We used to stand and stare at this Guitar in Peps music shop window in true Wayne’s world fashion.  I couldn’t believe that this guitar was mine after I had bought it.

The point of all this rambling is this.  For around £200 now you can have a starter guitar and amp of good quality compared to the beginners instruments of yesterday.  You no longer have to struggle learning to play on instruments with dubious action, low quality materials, and dodgy finishes.  If you are thinking of taking up the guitar, whatever age you are, get down the music shop or the online store and get yourself a starter pack.  Find a teacher or try some free online lessons and get on with it.  You wont regret it