Tip of The Week #1: Electric on Acoustic - Make Your Acoustic Guitar Easier To Play

A common topic among early acoustic guitarists is about how when they begin to play the acoustic guitar it's hard on their fingers. Yes, pushing down on some cold metal for a half hour per day is going to feel strange at first, but you can't become a rock star if you can't learn to touch the thing.

So here's something that can make the beginning phases of acoustic guitar playing a little bit more tolerable and similar to that of an electric player.

*Put electric guitar strings on your acoustic guitar.

I actually learned this trick of trading acoustic for electric strings from my dad. He told me how when he was younger, the strings were tough on his fingers, (like everyone else in the world) and he knew that electric guitars played easier, so he created an obvious alternative for himself.

There are a few down sides to putting electric strings on an acoustic instrument however:

* The strings will not resonate with as much power creating softer tones.

Yea, things are going to be a little bit softer in volume, but you can think of these as just practice strings. If you were planning on gigging soon, you might want to put the real acoustic strings back on.

* You'll be missing out on some finger strength development.

Honestly, it's not as much as it seems, but pressing down on those acoustic guitar strings over and over can really give your fingers a workout. If you change to electric strings, your fingers won't be working as hard.

* The flexibility in electric guitar strings are merely illusions to acoustic guitar players.

Anyone who's played both electric and acoustic guitars can vouch that bending strings on an acoustic is a son-of-a-you know what. You might be able to pull off some bends with the swapped strings, but I wouldn't incorporate them into your original acoustic compositions.

These are just the very few detriments though! Don't let these things deter you from putting electric strings on if you really need them. Here are some good things about it.

* Pressing the strings to the frets is easier.

That's simple enough to realize. Acoustic strings are stronger and less flexible, so replacing them with the alternative will make things easier. Ta Da!

* You might be able to avoid the appearance of blisters.

Sometimes, when new guitarists start with an acoustic guitar, nasty, pussy blisters form on the tips of their fingers. Using strings with more flexibility and more cushion for your fingers can help you avoid this.

* You'll keep your enthusiasm in playing the guitar!

Once you start playing the guitar, you shouldn't feel like it's too much work. Think of these electric strings as training wheels for your fingers. You should always be excited to play!

If you think that you're comfortable and can endure a week or two of finger pain to get those finger callouses without this tip, then that's completely awesome. Otherwise, don't feel any shame. The important thing is to use every tip you can to keep yourself playing!

Beginning Weekly Tips

For those of you that have been following my Twitter feed, I recently returned from a small weekend vacation in Baltimore with my sister. We ate some sushi, watched a couple dozen episodes of "Psych," and saw the new Harry Potter movie. (Totally awesome by the way)

More importantly, my sister works for the company called MGH Marketing as a copywriter and she gave me some pointers on how I could better serve my newly-established guitar community. (You)

One piece of advice she gave was to introduce weekly tips on my blog, giving each reader something to look forward to for the next week. It's the weakest form of mind control, but still effective.

So look out for interesting guitar tips that I will be releasing once a week to keep all of you frequent readers enticed by my internet presence. Thank you everyone for all your interest and views and if you have any questions, please refer to my Contact page for more information.

Keep playing,



For anyone that's interested, here's my sister's Twitter feed. She's constantly posting snarky comments and witticisms that you'll really enjoy.

Epiphone Les Paul Guitar Review - Taking a Look at the Custom Model

Total Score - 4.7/5

When I started playing the guitar at age 14, I was completely obsessed with the Les Paul guitar. I loved the shape, the style, the colors, the tone, and even the players that vouched for it. It appeared like all the pieces were in place.

Back then, I really didn't know the difference between a Gibson and an Epiphone version of the Les Paul Custom, and to this day I've only found it to be minor hardware. Some people might argue with me on this (and that's fine) but when you purchase a Gibson Les Paul Custom over an Epiphone, I think you're really just buying the name...

...which is about a $3000 difference. That's an expensive six letters.

Anywho, I've owned the black Epiphone Les Paul Custom with gold hardware for about five years now and thought that I'd give you the straight dope on what this tone machine is capable of.

Features - 5/5

Everything on the Les Paul Custom is good enough for me. The Epiphone has a tone switch that switches between the two smooth humbuckers. (one for rhythm and the other for lead purposes) You can also set the switch to include both.

To accompany the switch are two tone knobs and two volume knobs for adjustments on either humbucker. Like I said, it's pretty standard for most guitars these days, but it's really all that I need.

I AM a little disappointed with the lack of a super hip whammy bar. (being sarcastic)

Ease of Use - 3.5/5

Ok, the Epiphone Les Paul Custom, just like any other Les Paul, is HEAVY. I didn't think that it would be the first time that I picked it up, but it'll give you a crick in the neck for the first week or so. Yea, it isn't fun at first, but after hearing all those awesome tones coming out, you'll learn to adjust.

Second, the Les Paul Custom usually comes with the bridge set just a tad too high, so it's a little more work to press down than your typical metal-type guitars like LTD. and Jackson. Come to think of it, I wonder why in five years I haven't gone to have that thing adjusted. Hmmm.

I guess I've adapted to the situation, but I would recommend adjusting the bridge if you purchase one.

Tone - 5/5

The tone of the Epiphone Les Paul Custom is the whole reason that I fell in love in the first place. Not only is the "lead" humbucker strong and powerful, but the "rhythm" humbucker is smooth and enveloping.

I've never had to review my tone and think that it wasn't satisfactory. Pure perfection.

Sustain - 5/5

Has anyone seen This is Spinal Tap? Check out this clip. Nigel is showing the documenterer his guitars and the first one he shows says it all.

God, I love that clip. But seriously, since the guitar neck goes right into the body as one big piece, the sustain on this instrument is nuts. Definitely not a problem. Go have a bite and come back.

Dependability - (pending but so far...) 5/5

My Les Paul Custom has only been in my life for five years, but so far I haven't had a single problem. Not a knob has come off, all the headstock tuners are intact, the cable input isn't finicky, and the humbuckers are still humming... and bucking.

...whatever it is.


The Epiphone Les Paul Custom (in black with gold hardware) is great, in my opinion. Simply, if you're after great tone and a well-made instrument, then this is for you.

If you're looking for something to whip around on stage and solo like satan, (...not the Will Ferrel version) then you might want to look at an Epiphone SG, a Jackson, or a Schecter.

Distortion on Guitar - What Level Of Drive Is Appropriate?

Distortion on guitars or guitar amps are really all about personal preference since there are actually many different flavors of distorted drive. Distortion on guitar can either be very piercing and on the edge of white noise like your typical Metal-Zone guitar pedal, or smooth and buttery like the subtle distortion tone of a country music group.

Either way, there's quite a bit that can be altered simply by deciding how much of that distortion (that you have been presented with) you actually need to use. That's really the key-word there too. "Need" to use.

Because anybody can grab a guitar, crank up the distortion, and think that they're contributing to a guitar tune. However, knowing what is the necessary distortion level, regardless of the tone you've decided to use, is a big part of adding beneficial detail to your compositions.

Here are a list of common genres and what I would recommend as guitar distortion levels when playing along with a band or for recording purposes. Of course you can have recommendations of your own, but these are what have worked for me.

* Use medium distortion levels for a punk-rock sound.

The distortion on your guitar amp should be around 5 or 6 for a punk tone. (Assuming your levels go to 10 and not 11 like Spinal Tap) It will be right in that range to give good bite, but also to give enough smooth melody to come through.

* Higher distortions are for metal, but don't max it out.

When you're playing metal, yes, I would suggest that you give it some more distortion on your drive knob (Around 7 ). Get out those overdrive pedals as well.

However, that does not mean that you should apply as much distortion as you can get your hands on. Keep your gain in the range of listenability and don't go towards nasty-sounding white noise.

* Keep things modest for country guitar tunes.

Personally, I have never played country tunes. Mostly because I really don't like country music. However, when listening to country on the radio or CMT, I notice that most of the drive levels sit at around 1, 2, or 3 to keep things light but with some grind.

* For a rockabilly sound, keep things more like punk.

Set your drive knobs to 5 or 6 and you'll hear a smooth melody with a nice grind to it too. It almost really accentuates the voice of those typical rockabilly singers with a rough feel.

* Standard rock can be more or less.

Rock has many definitions as we all can probably guess by now, so it would be safe to say that the level of gain should stick to the mid-rage of the drive knob. Put your setting at 5 and depending on how much or how less you need it, make an adjustment.

Of course, these are only suggestions to what is necessary for distortion levels. But the point I'm trying to make is that even with the best distortion tone for you guitar, do what's best for your guitar tunes.

If you need more to rock, then add more. If you don't need more, then take some away. Be a deity in these respects, but always do what's best for the genre and your fans.

Guitar Songwriters - Creating Your Own Compositions

When you think of joining the ranks of guitar songwriters, you should really take into account the full spectrum of writing music including lyrics and all and not just guitar. Songwriting, by no means, is truly an easy task, neither for lyricists nor guitarists.

Writing songs really takes a lot of listening to identify what is really appealing in a guitar tune and what isn't. Of course, there are tons of terrible songwriters out there that are highly publicized, but they think economically and create based upon guitar tunes that have already been created.

I call those composers "cookie-cutter" artists or bands.

You don't want to become an artist like that.

And here's why:

* You'll never get any respect from the songwriting community.

Your fellow songwriters will be much more willing to contribute and help your efforts when they see you have valiant intentions. If they see you're just trying to be like everyone else and make money, they won't bother with you.

* You're appeal will last a very limited time.

Most of the time, a great band with original ideas and talents will emerge and hundreds of other artists will ride their coat tails with a similar songwriting style. Eventually you begin to notice the "other" bands slipping between the cracks and getting lost under everyone else's similar efforts.

* In the end, you're just selling your talent short.

You know better than anyone what you're capable of as a songwriter or guitarist. Would you really be happy with yourself knowing that you composed something that wasn't really your idea?

I know that I wouldn't.

When I sit down with my guitar and paper and think that I want to start composing, there's a certain process that I go through. It's not too difficult, but it does take some time to really become aware of your own stylistic features and the features of others.

My Process.

1. Pick your genre.

If you have a favorite genre of guitar tunes that you listen to or a style that you always seem to be playing, then this step should be easy. Find the genre you enjoy and that you have the most listening experience with.

If you don't have a lot of experience listening to the music you want to compose, then you need to study! Get out there and listen! Get on to Myspace Music, Purevolume, or ReverbNation to check out artists in your preferred genre.

2. Learn at least three cover songs from beginning to end.

What's the point of this step? The only way you can learn the subtleties of a genre and how it's played is if you experience what's already out there.

If you want to play guitar tunes like Linkin' Park, Limp Bizkit, and The Deftones but have never played anything like it before, then you need to practice their EXACT songs. Learn their chorus structures, their verse techniques, the lead compositions, and be meticulous about detail.

3. Identify stylistic details.

Now that you've walked a mile in another artists shoes by practicing their guitar tunes, you should already be picking up on their common composition traits. That is, what is common in each song throughout the entire genre you've picked to write in?

Take some notes if you have to. Write down what truly makes this genre original from anything else that you would have chosen in the first step.

4. Apply what you have learned.

Take those notes and all the characteristics of the songs you've learned in the genre you've chosen and put them into implementation.

I'm definitely NOT telling you to copy a progression and a lead riff to its exact specifications as another song and claim it as your own. That's not what song-writing is about.

Songwriting should be about identifying the appealing attributes in a genre while combining them with your own personal characteristics to create a strong composition. Of course, you'll improve on this skill with time like any other.

I'll have more detailed posts on song-writing later to really help you cook with the specifics of the talent.

Pros And Cons Of Using The Best Guitar Distortion Pedal For Your Tone

If you were to head into a music store and tell the salesman that you play the guitar, 9 times out of 10 he's going to introduce you to "the best guitar distortion pedal" that money can buy. He's also going to guarantee that this distortion pedal for your guitar will solve ALL of your problems!

Wow, that really sounds like a deal to me. Of course, it's all baloney.

Yea, sorry to break it to you, but even owning the best guitar distortion pedal in existence can't do everything for you. Owning one DOES have great positive attributes however, so you shouldn't rule them out.

Just be aware that using guitar distortion pedals for your guitar tone will really determine how your fans will react to your guitar tunes. Here are a few positive and negative attributes to owning a guitar distortion pedal, even if it's the best one ever.

Let's talk about the good things!

* You have access to easy distortion emulation.

The shiniest aspect of owning a guitar distortion pedal is the vast variety of guitar tones that you can now achieve with a couple new hook-ups and the press of a button. And with hundreds of distortion pedals out there, it's not unrealistic to own a few different ones and switch your tone every now and then.

* This sound can follow you with future guitar amplifiers.

So let's say that your guitar amplifier bites the dust and you're forced to buy a new one. Your present guitar distortion pedal can pass on the very same sound that you've known and loved through the existence of your previous guitar amp to your new one.

Isn't that the best? You can count on a very similar sound to what you had before with your previous amplifier, but not exactly the same. But don't worry. You're guitar tunes may not be affected by the change at all.

* You can slightly prolong the life of your amplifier and its channels.

If most of your distortion and grind is going through your tiny little pedal on the floor, that means that your amplifier isn't doing as much work. You'll still be heating up the transistors and tubes inside your amp, but you'll be saving a tiny bit of wear and tear for your guitar distortion pedal.

Now let's poke some holes in this idea.

* There's more equipment to carry and keep track of.

I know. As pathetic as it sounds to forget a tiny little guitar distortion pedal, it happens. Even as annoying, you can forget the cable to plug into it or your ac adapter to give it power. Just make sure that you write it on your list of things to bring or always keep it in the vicinity of your equipment.

* It can die at the worst moments.

You may never know when the pedal, the batteries, or the adapter is going to quit on you. The only thing you can do is be prepared. Have extra batteries ready to slide in. Purchase a second adapter for when someone trips on the cord and rips it. As for when the whole pedal just dies, you could have a second one ready, but I know we're not all made of money.

* More chances of electronic failure between you and your output sound.

This really bothers me the most. I used to be a keyboard player in a band and the most frustrating thing was when some piece of electronic equipment decided to fail on me.

I played with two keyboards and a pedal and chances are that in one month's worth of shows, something decided to act up and not perform properly. It's just Murphy's Law man. And it sucks.

Even though you're only adding a pedal and one more guitar cable between you and your sound output, that's more chances for something to go wrong. Back up anything you can with another in order to avoid catastrophe when you're on stage.

I know there are other reasons to purchase and to not purchase a guitar distortion pedal, whether it's the best or not, but I would like you to realize that these matters aren't always black and white.

Decide whether you want a pure sound from a good amplifier, or you rather want to play god with your tone. Either way, have fun and rock.

How To Guitar Strum - Learning the Double Down Up Technique

Learning how to strum simple chords on the guitar really isn't that much of a venture. Once you get the hang of moving your wrist up and down, it becomes a bit tedious to try to "improve" upon.

There are however, more intricate ways of strumming guitar tunes that can really turn you into a fine player. In this blog post, I want to talk about the pattern that I discovered over the weekend called "Double Down Up."

Now, in no way is this guitar strumming pattern anything "new" that anyone should scream at, but it's another skill to add to your growing list as a good guitarist. It's simple to learn, but a little more involved on how to perfect.

So what IS Double Down Up?

It's a precise style of guitar strumming where you pluck a single string downwards. You pause. You pluck the next string downwards. You pause. Then you pluck the same string with an upward motion.

It's nothing too difficult to use in a guitar tune, but the tricky part is forcing yourself to pause in between the strumming of each string to make the pattern effective.

Where can you use this?

Almost anywhere actually. It probably has some strong merit in a guitar solo for fast little licks in a guitar tune between only a couple strings.

You can probably fit it into a folk song with how rapidly those strings are vibrating sometimes. Really, the sky is probably the limit with this technique.

Here are some things that can help your development of this technique move a little smoother.

* Start slow in order to go fast.

If you want to learn how to speed up this guitar strumming pattern eventually, you'll need to start slow with good form. Once you notice the tediousness of each practice session, then it's time to put your foot on the gas a little.

* Be meticulous about the pauses.

Putting the tiny pauses in between each string pluck is really what gives this technique its flare. The faster you go, the more subtle the pauses are, but they're still there.

*Use as much wrist or finger strumming as opposed to arm strumming.

Sometimes you can feel your arm getting tired when playing the guitar and that's because you're doing too much with those muscles. To get really fast you'll need to train yourself to keep all the movement in either your wrist or just the two fingers that hold your guitar pick. That's where the real speed lies.

* Practice without real notes to focus on technique.

If you jump right into playing this with music immediately, you might miss out on the details of the skill. Try muting the strings with your chord hand and then practicing the technique.

Here's a great video that shows you really how to get down and dirty with this guitar strumming technique and it shows the instructor putting the technique into real use. It's pretty impressive stuff.

Rock Guitar Duo - Putting Lead Riffs Over Rhythm Chords

To me, the most important aspect of a rock guitar duo is its ability for both guitars to work together harmoniously. When two guitars join their patterns and movements within the music, that's when you really get sucked into the guitar tune.

So let's think about the important things when a lead guitarist works with a rhythm player. Who really leads and who really follows? Actually neither.

Of course, the rhythm guitar player has more power as to what the creation of the rock tune will be if a duo is composing a guitar tune, but more accurately, being familiar with both parts is where the real power lies.

If you're a solo songwriter and you're creating your own lead guitar riffs over your rhythms, then understanding what's going on in the music is going to be much easier obviously. Here are a few tips I came up with for creating good lead sections over your rhythms.

* Become familiar with the notes in each chord.

Knowing the name of the guitar chord itself is a good start, but taking that just a bit further can really help things heat up. Honestly, if you don't know the actual note names that make up a chord, the next best thing is knowing what those notes sound like.

It's kind of like learning a rock song by ear. You hear the notes and then you learn to compose as sort of an improvisation method. It's very powerful.

But knowing when notes are the same for a guitar duo is very helpful. You can analytical identify when notes do not belong. "Well that's why that sounds bad. That note I've been playing doesn't fit into any variation of this guitar chord."

* Recognize similarities in the chord progressions you create and play.

When you finally start learning some songs to play or you're able to write your own, you'll notice yourself gravitating to similar styles of music whether it's rock, hardcore, jazz, etc. These styles can be particularly diverse among themselves, but most of the time, you can find very similar chord progressions.

It's times like these in a rock guitar duo that having multiple lead riffs composed for one rhythm section is helpful. If you couldn't figure out how to use all of the riffs in the same song, you'll be happy to know that there's probably hundreds of other guitar tunes out there that are very similar in composition.

* Tasteful repetition can be good.

Repeating a section over and over again until the listener is dead in their ears is not a good idea for a lead guitarist. Well, it's not good for a rhythm player either.

If you have rock riff for you your duo that you know is catchy, play it enough so the listener becomes familiar, but doesn't get bored with the guitar tune. Tasteful discretion is the name of the game.

* Match the rhythms in each part at different sections.

Sometimes it can show major virtuosity for guitar players that can sync up the rhythms in the rock duo. Is there a section in the song that would really pound if both of you really locked together? Try to find something that's similar for both sections, but keeps each part separate.

* Use lead riffs when the section is lacking or can be improved upon.

Even though having a lead guitar riff over top of a rhythm section can add good depth, that doesn't mean it's necessary for every part. Focus on adding the leads where the music is lacking. If ain't broke, don't fix it.

It's great to see a guitar duo bust out some sweet rock riffs when both parts work together. Just think of what's necessary for the music tastefully and you should be on the right track.

Wake the Lion (My Band) in AP Magazine!

Hey guys! This is totally unrelated to anything that I would normally post on How To Guitar Tune, but sometimes there's exciting things going on in my life that I like to share with others, and this is one of those times.

So have you guys hear of this little magazine called Alternative Press?

(I'm being condescending, I know) haha

Well! If you've read my contact page, you would have known that I'm in the band Wake the Lion as the lead vocalist. I've been in it for close to two years now and...

We got into the unsigned bands section of AP Magazine! It's pretty incredible. And I'm actually very honored to be in the issue with Blink 182 on the cover, since they happen to be one of my favorite bands ever.

So, check out this little clipping from page 37. I'm the one on the far left. Yea, I got put on the magazine spine. haha

Alright. Well that's it. Have a great day everyone!


Questions about my posts?

Feel free to leave your questions as a comment right in the post, that way others can gain information from my answers as well.

More supplemental guitar material?

Check out my posts on lessons here:

Fast Electric Guitar Learning Course | Best Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Want to suggest a post for me to write?

Tell me what you would like to read and I'll try to write it up! Just send me an e-mail.


Would you like to be a guest blogger?

If you're a guitar blogger and you want some promotion for your blog, write a post for MY blog! I'll give you credit for the post and send a link straight back to your blog and then I'll return the favor by writing a post for YOU.

Just shoot me an e-mail to howtoguitartune@yahoo.com

Any other questions or concerns?

Feel free to contact me at:


(At least until I get spammed out of my mind)

About Me and Welcome!


Welcome to my guitar blog, How To Guitar Tune!

I'm a college senior that's been playing in rock bands since I was 15. My first show, I played rhythm guitar down the street from my house in a bar. Unfortunately, that wasn't the night of my first drink.

Even though our set list consisted of watered-down versions of "Back in Black" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin," and our entire fan-base was a handful of proud parents...

I was scared out of my mind.

Eventually I learned some stage presence and have been playing live every chance that I can get. The crowds got a little bigger too and since then I've pounded my share of drinks.

Since then, I've developed some skill in other musical areas such as keyboard, piano, singing, songwriting, and recording, but I've never stopped playing the guitar.

As of right now, my favorite guitars are my Epiphone Les Paul Custom (black w/ gold hardware) and my Takamine G-Series acoustic guitar. My favorite genres of music to play are hardcore, metal, and indie.

Guitars are simply awesome. There's no doubt about that.

And learning new ways to improve your technique is what I'm all about.

I really want this blog to be about sharing information from everyone. So if YOU have something you want to add to anything please leave your info in a blog comment so everyone can read it.

I know that I don't have all the guitar answers but...

I want to keep learning just as much as you do.


Kyle Hoffman

P.S. For anyone interested in hearing my current music projects, here are the links. Enjoy!

Wake the Lion (Metal/Hardcore) ...I'm the lead vocalist

HonestKyle (Hardcore/Rock) ...All instruments - Drums + Production

Kyle Hoffman (Acoustic/Indie/Piano) ... All instruments - Drums + Production

Zombies! Fight! (Metal/Electronica) ...1/2 Vocals + Instruments - Bass - Drums + Production

Best Amp For Guitar - Purchasing an Amplifier

A lot of hype goes around about the best craftsmanship, the sound, the price, and the look of a guitar but sometimes guitar amps are neglected a bit. There's a lot of weight to how much a sound can be altered with the use of a well-made guitar, but there's just as much with the use of a finely-crafted amplifier.

To be honest, you could play on poor guitar with a nice amplifier and get a decent sound. Reversely, if you were to play on a good guitar with a poor amplifier, the sound of your guitar tunes would suffer. So really, finding the best amp for your guitar is all about personal choice.

Small Amplifiers

Now, when going out to purchase your first amplifier, a lot of new guitarists take a look at the 15 watt class of amps and think, "Yea. It's small, easy to lug around, and the tone isn't half bad. This guitar amp is the best."

Actually, these amps are a pretty bad idea to start a new guitarist on for a couple reasons.

1. The tones are not very good.

2. You can't get these amps very loud.

I can remember playing my first amplifier, a 30 watt Rogue, and thinking to myself, "Man, I can't understand how every guitar tune I play sounds like crap."

Regardless of whether I was progressing or not, the tone of my guitar amp was just bad in general and I didn't enjoy anything that was coming out of it. For beginners, having a poor tone from a cheap amp can really discourage a player from continuing at all.

And about the amp not getting very loud...

Seriously, the thing is only 15 watts, and what if you want to get yourself into a fun little band? You can't even compete with the crack of the snare drum with a guitar amplifier like that.

Do you need to spend thousands of dollars on an amplifier?

No, you don't. But you can't just settle for the cheapest thing that a music store has. You'll only be setting yourself up for disappointment. Here are some things that I would look for in a beginning amplifier. These are not options everyone should take to heart, but they are what I like to follow.

* It should have at least a 3 band equalizer.

You want your 'low', 'mid', and 'treble' at the very least. Anything more than that is great for precision, but the original three are the most important.

* The amp needs a clean and distorted channel.

Depending on your style of music, you may only want a clean channel. For anyone who's going to play rock or metal, you'll need both. If you eye one with an 'overdrive' channel as well, that's good. Overdrive distortion set at 6 on the dial sounds like your normal distortion at around 10.

*It can have some basic effects.

I'm not really big into guitar effects, but having reverb, delay, chorus, or flange, on a guitar amp is nice to say the least.

* For gigging purposes, you want at least 90 watts or power, or you're looking at a half stack.

When you're playing a gig without amps being miced into the P.A. system, you'll need at least 90 watts to be heard best. That will be good for beginners. Later, you'll probably want to shop around for a half-stack. (guitar head and cabinet)

Where do you look for them?

* Music stores

These are your safest place to purchase a guitar amp since you really need to play on the equipment before you can make your best decision. And this gives you a chance to have some fun with the salesman. If you talk with the guy for awhile, explain your situation, and even ask how much they can come down, you might be looking at a 10% discount.

* Classified Ads

In every paper there's either an ad for someone selling a piano, guitar, amp, or a drum set. No joke. These people think that taking up an instrument is a piece of cake and then get frustrated when they can't figure out how to play a guitar tune in less than an hour. You'll usually find some great deals without much hunting.

* Ebay or Craig's List

Now, of course you can get some great deals on these massive online selling sites, but sometimes you can't HEAR the amplifier. Make sure that you've done some research beforehand and KNOW what amplifier you want before searching at random.

* Friend's House

You know that you have a friend out there who was talking about playing an instrument and gave up fairly early and now the thing is just sitting in his closet collecting dust. Check with your best buds. You might be surprised with what you'll find.

* Pawn Shop

They can be shady places most of the time, but chances are they have guitar amps and lots of them. They won't have the best selection or anything, but they're still worth a try.

Testing the Guitar Amplifier

When you find an amplifier brand and model that sparks your interest, take the time to really play around with the thing. If you're going to use it, you should know that it can handle the extremes of what you're going to be doing.

Turn all the knobs from minimum to maximum and play. Check the distortion. Play the volume loud AND soft. Try out the effects. Jam on your favorite guitar tunes. Get to know this guitar amp the best that you can inside and out.

Hopefully when you're done, you'll be very confident that you've made a good decision with the equipment that you've chosen.

Tune Guitar Harmonics - Another Way To Tune Your Instrument

Happy 4th of July everybody! I went down to the parade today and saw all the firetrucks, the cheer leading teams, and all the baseball kids throwing candy way too hard. It's days like these I just love to live in America. haha

I hope that everyone is having a great 4th and I want you all to enjoy this tip today which will be about tuning your guitar by harmonics which can be very helpful to very accurate pitches.

The very first post that I wrote for How To Guitar Tune (the blog) was about tuning your guitar and ironically was named How To Guitar Tune (the post). In this post, I explain the very basic concept of tuning your guitar by ear if you're familiar with the pitches of the strings.

But another way of tuning your guitar, either by itself or with a combination of other tuning types is with guitar harmonics.

What are guitar harmonics?

Guitar harmonics are very high pitches that actually can't be reached on a most guitar fret boards unless you have an unruly amount of frets. They're very pure tones that can be created from ordinary notes.

Guitar harmonics are used in actual guitar tunes for a little bit of flavor, but it's also used for tuning your guitar as well. Some guitarists say that harmonics tuning of your guitar is great and almost flawless, while others may not agree.

Nonetheless, I'm going to explain to you how to do it.

Standard Tuning

If you've looked over my post on guitar tuning, (How To Guitar Tune) you'll have learned that pattern in which to compare notes for tuning purposes.

Here are the standard tuning fingers to compare notes for: E, A, D, g, b, and e respectively.


By hitting these pitches together, you can make comparisons to tell whether your notes are flat or sharp.

Tune Guitar Harmonics

How do you make harmonics?

Guitar harmonics are made by instead of placing your finger in between the fret markings and striking a string with a pick, place your finger on the fret marking (lightly only to touch it. We're not pressing down), and then striking the string.

If this is done correctly, you should hear a very high-pitched note ring from the instrument, and that is the harmonic note.

Now, some frets are more receptive to harmonic notes than others, so you may find yourself looking at a whole bunch of different frets in order to make harmonics, but for tuning, we're only going to need a few frets.

First Try

Let's make our first comparison between the low 'E' string and the 'A' string.

Place your finger gently on the 5th fret mark on the 'E' string (no pushing down). Then, strike the string with your pick. You should hear a high-pitched note.

Now, place your finger on the 7th fret mark on the 'A' string and strike the note. You should hear the same pitch. If this pitch is off, adjust your tuning pegs either tighter or looser depending on the flatness or sharpness of the pitch.

There really isn't that much more to it, but here are all the comparisons to make on your guitar to tune all the pitches.


When you really get the grasp on making harmonic notes ring well, try plucking two strings at once to save time. It'll speed up the tuning process and really make you look like a professional.

If you still think that you need the help of an electronic tuner, check out a wide selection at the How To Guitar Tune Store.

Guitar To Shred - Creating Awesome Dual Lead Riffs

So you may have gotten your guitar to shred by itself, but maybe you want to shred alongside another lead sound. Shredding on your own guitar is one thing, but working with another lead player is a whole other can of worms.

Learning how to create dueling lead parts in a guitar tune is a good way to showcase your technical side while creating some very colorful melodies. Here are a few tips on getting your guitar to shred with another.

* Use single note runs as opposed to chords.

For dueling lead parts, you'll find that when shredding with another guitar, single note runs blend much easier with another guitar. It's simpler to figure out how to coalesce single notes in a guitar tune than chords which can sound messy and less technical. For the "wow" factor, keep your dueling lead parts with single notes.

* Precision and accuracy are very important.

When you first get your guitar to shred, you'll notice that each note needs to ring purely and there isn't much room for faults. The same thing applies with two lead guitars.

Be sure that each note and each melody line syncs with each other in order to preserve a very smooth and flowing texture of music. The less accuracy used, the messier the riffs can sound in the guitar tune.

* If working with another guitarist, they should be of similar ability.

Have you attempted to guitar shred with someone else and noticed that they don't really have the function quite yet? For dueling lead parts, it's very important to have two guitarists of similar ability.

Not only will it be difficult to keep things clean and tight, but the writing may be substantially slowed due to your partner's lack of skills. The best way how to execute a dual lead in a guitar tune is with someone you know you can depend on.

* At certain points, give each lead some breathing room.

Having a dueling lead part in a guitar tune that just goes on and on can be a bit tedious at times. Give yourself and your partner a little time to shred on the guitar by yourselves. This way, you can be a little freer to experiment during the solo and it creates very comfortable breaks in the tune.

* Be open-minded about tempo and rhythm.

When composing a dueling lead part, you want it to be anything but boring. How many riffs have we heard where there's just this steady, endless stream of notes? Too many!

Mix it up! Be creative! Add twists and turns, different rhythm styles, staccato notes, and other cool things to give your guitar tune a little pizazz!

* Use dual leads in moderation.

As much as getting your guitar to shred with another is cool, using this technique in moderation is the key to great dual lead parts. Yes, some bands base their entire guitar solo ideas on dueling leads, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

Make your dual leads something that people will crave. If you have something that's exciting for the crowd to listen to, make them plead for it to come and beg for more when it's done.

I love a good dual lead part in a song. They can be crazy, slow, fast, composed, but just downright mesmerizing. Have a great time shredding guitars alongside another lead part and learn to be creative with it.