Tag Archives: gitaar

Jam along with Dave Grohl’s PLAY – ‘The reward of putting effort in an instrument is to play’

Dave Grohl is one of the most diverse musicians in the rock business. He plays drums, guitar and is a pretty good singer. We know Grohl as drummer in Nirvana and of course as frontman of Foo Fighters. In his new project called “PLAY” we see that Grohl is even more skilled than we ever thought. He literally plays a 23 minute song all by himself.

Music is a puzzle

Do you know the feeling of picking up a guitar and thinking that if you could somehow learn to play that one song you love, your life purpose would be fulfilled? But when you actually master the track, it’s like there was never a challenge in playing it. The real challenge is that other song that has a way more difficult chord progression.

Will this quest for full mastery ever end? Dave Grohl doesn’t think so. Even as a highly skilled musician, he says that his battle of becoming better and better never stops. That’s why he wrote, recorded and preformed a 23 minute song all by himself. Just to keep the juices flowing.

Learning how to play

The idea for “PLAY” came about when Grohl watched how his kids were struggling with the same challenges he still has to overcome; becoming better and more skilled in the instrument your playing. It’s a proces of winning, failing and most of all learning.

“When I take my kids to the place where they take their lessons, I see these rooms full of children that are really pushing themselves to figure this out. And even now, as a 49-year-old man, I’m still trying to figure it out… it’s not something that you ever truly master. You’re always chasing the next challenge, and you’re always trying to find a way to improve on what you’ve learned”, Grohl says in “PLAY”.

The reward is to play

In the end the reward you get from pushing yourself to master an instrument is the fact that you can keep playing. Just keep that in mind every time you pick up a guitar, ukelele, drumsticks or your keytar. Check out the song “PLAY” and try to jam along with Dave. Happy jamming!

A minor equals classic rock – Chord of the week

One of the most dramatic chords you can grab at the top of your neck is the Am. The scale of this chord of the week consists of the basic notes A, B, C, D, E, F and G. That’s why there are countless rock classics written with the Am at the core.

Our chord of the week is made up of the same tones as the A major, with the main difference that the third tone – the third – is not a C# but a C. The above tones that appear in the Am scale, therefore, fit as stand-alone chords in combination with the Am. Just look at the tracks below.

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

Stairway to Heaven” is a rock classic and a welcome addition to any setlist. Jimi Page’s powerhouse display of technical skills might overshadow the core of the song: the chords. But, when you look past the spicy fingerpicking and listen to the soul of the track, you’ll soon notice that it consists of basic triads played at the top of the neck.

Which is why “Stairway to Heaven” is actually a good song for a beginning guitarist. It comprises several standard chords, like Am, C, D, E, F, and G. Give it a try. If it’s easy, you can go and see how the plucking fits in there.

Le Freak – Chic

While true for “Stairway to Heaven”, not everything written in the Am sounds serious and gloomy. Take “Le Freak“, the song from the legendary funk band Chic, led by hitmaker Nile Rodgers. It doesn’t get more buoyant than this. The track has everything, from frisky vocals to groovy bass lines and well-timed guitar punches.

As you might expect this song is not very difficult as far as the chord scheme is concerned. The most important funk riff revolves around the Am, D, C progression. The only thing you have to pay close attention to is your strumming hand. It doesn’t take long to play the chords, but to ‘feel the funk’: that’s a steep learning curve.

Child in Time – Deep Purple

If you include Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in your jam, another classic that shouldn’t be omitted is the epic “Child in Time” by rock band Deep Purple. It’s a mesmerizing gem from the seventies. Let’s take a closer look at the song. We’ll see straight away that one thing stands out.

It’s not Richie Blackmore’s versatile guitar part that makes this epic ballad feel so elusive. This can be attributed to frontman Ian Gillan’s towering range and Sir Jon Lord’s illuster organ part, which envelope the basic chords of the song: Am, G, and F.

Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga is not old enough to be a golden oldie, but it’s sure to be a classic in the long run. And of course, we don’t want to bore you with only seventies classics. “Bad Romance” will restore the balance.

Obviously, this track is electronic, but you can tame the electric bleeps and turn this song into a sultry campfire hit, by applying a standard strum to the basic chords Am, F, G, E and C. Well, that’s pop music for you of course. Everything is possible with a limited number of chords. That doesn’t make it any less fun to play though. Happy jamming!

Rapper Juice WRLD addresses the elephant in the room with new video Lean Wit Me

Rapper Juice WRLD is only 19 years old and one of the first of his generation to address the elephant in the room; casualties of drug abuse. Last year rapper Lil Peep died from an accidental overdose. But the 21-year-old artist isn’t the only one to bite the dust after abusing substances. Too many legends left this world too early due to drug abuse, according to Juice WRLD.

Michael Jackson, Prince and Ike Turner are just a few examples of top-notch artists that died after intentionally or unintentionally taking drugs. The track “Lean Wit Me” by Juice WRLD is about them and, maybe more important, about the new generation that experiments with different kinds of substances like Xanax and Fentanyl.

Lean Wit Me

In his new video, released on August 2, we hear Juice WRLD’s message loud and clear: if you have a problem don’t be afraid to ask for help before it’s too late. The track starts off with a catchy guitar tune written in the key of E. We see the rapper talking about his problems in a meeting where the twelve steps (an addiction recovery program) are mentioned.

The video ends with Juice WRLD getting arrested after he calls the police telling them that his girlfriend has overdosed. The last shot shows the text: “RIP to too many young legends that left us early. If you or somebody you know is suffering from addiction call 1-800-662-HELP to take the first step.”

Goodbye & Good Riddance

“Lean Wit Me” is a single from the rapper’s debut album Goodbye & Good Riddance, which you can check below. Juice WRLD released the record in March after which it reached number six in the Billboard 200. If you like jamming along with “Lean Wit Me” also check out the rapper’s other single “Lucid Dreams.” Happy jamming!

Warning! The versatility of the Dm can make you dizzy – chord of the week

This week we’ll discuss one of the most mysterious triads you can play at the top of the neck of your guitar. The D minor has something sad, something exciting, something tough and something scary in its sound. Therefore, it lends itself to many styles. From pop and rap to metal and folk, the Dm covers it all.

Our chord of the week is versatile, so take advantage of it by including some of the songs below in your jam. They’re not necessarily the easiest tracks, but a little challenge every now and then is good for your skills.

Fear of the Dark – Iron Maiden

Fear of the Dark by British metal band Iron Maiden is a classic; from the intro, on which the bass guitarist plucks a Dm, to the dramatic end. Due to the technical nature of the metal genre, a song like this sounds difficult, but nothing could be further from the truth. When we look at the chord progression of this track we quickly see that it mainly consists of the basic chords Am, C, F, G, E, D, Em and of course the Dm.

The Bb, the Fm and the Gm seem to be the more difficult chords, at first glance. If you look closely though, you see that these barre chords have almost the same finger placement. The only difference is that they are performed on a different position on the neck. With this in mind the level is not as difficult as it seems. But you really have to practice.

Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club

The hit single “Chan Chan” performed by the legendary musicians of Buena Vista Social Club is a nice track for the sultry summer evenings. The song is very laid-back and has a less predictable chord progression than many other pop songs.

Use this track to practice your basic chords and for training your motor skills, because there are a few quick transitions between Dm and G and Dm and F. Make sure that your grip doesn’t soften and that the triads sound bright and clear.

All Eyez on Me – 2Pac

Did we say how multifaceted the Dm chord is? Yes, we certainly did. The song “All Eyez on Me” by rapper 2Pac is yet another example of this. The melancholic harmony and the sturdy beat ensure that everything falls perfectly into place in this track.

As far as the chords go, this song is entirely built around a bass line that varies between the Dm and Gm. This makes it fun to experiment with filling in the time between these chords with some plucking. However, the rapping part is a completely different story. You really need to spend a little more time on mastering that skill.

In the Air Tonight

We saved the best for last. This pop classic will never sound the same again after you’ve seen the movie “The Hangover.” Yes, we’re talking about “In the Air Tonight ” by drummer, singer and songwriter Phil Collins. The drum break halfway through the song is epic.

This track is a good moment to borrow your sister’s keyboard. On the guitar the chords Dm, Gm and C sound beautiful, but the song is mainly written for synthesizer. So, if you’re able to experiment on the black and white keys, then this is the moment. Happy jamming!

Even in the darkest hour there is always a sparkle of light – the story behind AC/DC’s historic album Back in Black

What do you do as a band when your frontman dies tragically while you are on the verge of becoming world famous? Back in Black is much more than just a hard rock album. It is the story of the Australian band AC/DC who, in the middle of a mourning period, produce a record that goes down in history as one of the best-selling and hardest rock albums of all time.

The seventh album of the Australian rebels AC/DC Back in Black was released on the 25th of July 1980 and is one of the best-selling records ever. The album is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the best sold record by a non-American or British band in the United States. The band sold 50 million copies in total, of which 21 million in America. The story behind this record is one of sadness and joy.

Highway to Hell

At the end of the seventies there is a change in the musical field. Hard rock and metal acts such as Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath no longer dominate the terrain. They lose fans to emerging acts like Foreigner, Journey, and REO Speedwagon. With the beginning of the eighties a new genre is born: adult-oriented rock. It’s much softer, and more poppy than the hardrock which emerged in the seventies.

Between all this turmoil a raw sound comes from down under. AC/DC crashes through America for the first time with their record Highway to Hell. This is their moment. It seems as if the rock ‘n roll oriented hard rockers don’t care about the new trend. The fans share that opinion and the band’s tracks rise quickly in the charts with more and more people screaming: “I’m on a highway to hell!

Bon Scott

During the Highway to Hell-tour, brothers Angus and Malcolm Young–the founders of the band–write a lot of guitar riffs. All these ideas are ready to be worked out in the studio at the moment they are back from the road. In order to maintain the momentum of their last album, they decide not to waste any time and to jump right into the studio in London after the end of the tour.

Frontman Bon Scott is supposed to join the group later on. The planned day of his arrival is 20 February 1980. The evening before, Bon decides to dive into the London pub scene. The night progresses and the singer drinks a lot together with his friends.

When it’s finally time to go home, a buddy takes Bon home. Bon falls asleep in the car and his friend leaves him there. A few hours later the singer suffocates in his own vomit caused by acute alcohol poisoning.

Shock and sadness

Bon’s death is a shock to the band members. Guitarists Angus and Malcolm, together with drummer Phil Rudd and bass guitarist Cliff Williams, are considering quitting the band; their frontman is inimitable, in their eyes there is no AC/DC without him.

Bon Scott’s mother encourages the grieving boys. “You have to go on. Bon wouldn’t have wanted it any other way”, Malcolm recalls in a documentary about the band. And so, a few weeks after Bon Scott’s death, the search for a replacement begins. In the eyes of many fans an impossible task.

Brian Johnson

Angus and Malcolm know right away that they shouldn’t look for someone who would imitate Bon’s act. The new frontman should have his own charm, his own strengths. While the Young brothers are asking around, the management of AC/DC receives a tape from a fan who argues that the former singer of the British glamrock band Geordie, Brian Johnson, is the man for the task.

Car mechanic Johnson is totally caught off guard when he receives the call from his old management. “The woman on the phone didn’t want to tell me which band was asking me to audition,” says Johnson in an interview. “When I insisted, she said that she could only tell me the initials of the band name.” He laughs. “AC/DC. I was stunned, and not only by the stupidity of the woman on the other side of the line.”

Instant connection

When Brian shows up for his audition he meets the AC/DC road crew, but the band is nowhere to be found. He starts joking around with the guys. After a while Angus and Malcolm enter the room anxiously looking for him just to find Brian drinking beer and playing pool with their roadies.

“He was himself from the very beginning,” Malcolm says. “We found him chilling out with our crew. The connection was there right from the start so to say.” But drinking beer and partying was not what the singer came for. Johnson had to prove himself, and so he did. After Brian opened his throat during the audition the band just knew almost instantly that this was the guy they were looking for.

The real deal

After conquering his spot behind the mic the real work was just about to begin. The band moves to a studio in the Bahamas. London has left a bitter aftertaste after Bon’s death. And the climate is also much more pleasant at the new location than in the United Kingdom.

While Malcolm and Angus, together with Phil and Cliff, try to create the right sound in the studio, the new kid on the block Brian is left with the important task of writing kickass lyrics. And he’s struggling. “It’s difficult when you know you have to match someone who not only had a great voice, but who also was a great showman, and on top of all that was a brilliant poet,” says Brian referring to the late Scott.

Rolling Thunder

The singer recalls the moment when a storm appears on the horizon while he is writing in his block note, tearing one page out after the other. With that storm closing in over the ocean Brian feels a bizarre presence. It’s as if Bon Scott himself is visiting his successor.

“It was really a very weird and special experience. That’s all I’m saying about it. Except that at the moment it happened I began writing like a madman. The words just started pouring out of my pen: A rolling thunder, a pouring rain, I’m coming on like a hurricane.” The rest of course is history.

Hells Bell

The bell you hear on the album’s opening track is a story in itself. During the recording of Back in Black Angus and Malcolm decide that they want to have a bell sounding, a la Black Sabbath, for the intro of Hells Bells. When their sound engineer sets out to record the Denison Bell in the Carillon Tower of the Loughborough War Museum, he encounters a problem.

Every time the bell is sounded dozens of pigeons fly away. He cannot get a recording without the fluttering of wings. When it becomes clear that the band wants that particular bell sound at any cost, AC/DC solves the wing-problem once and for all. The band orders John Taylor Bellfounders – the manufacturer of the original Carillon Tower of the Loughborough War Museum – to make an exact replica of the bell.

Special tour

The rock clock, however, gets a bonus; the band’s name and the name of the song are written on its surface. When the moment comes to record the carillon, the manufacturer himself rings the bell. That’s the sound you hear at the beginning of Hells Bells.

Fun fact: on their world tour the band took the 910 kilogram (2000 pounds) heavy carillon on stage. But even after AC/DC returned to the studio, the bell had a world tour of its own. The carillon was exposed in big cities all over the world where people could ring it and take a picture.

Back in Black

From the title to the cover and the songs the record Back in Black is a clear statement for the fans, which welcome both the band and its new frontman back on the stage after suffering a great loss. The album is full of references to the life of Bon Scott. Tracks like Hells Bells, Have a Drink on Me and of course the title track Back in Black with its epic main riff are all dedicated to the life of a friend.

Brian Johnson’s throat, lyrics and personality are certainly not inferior to those of the deceased frontman. And so with this historical album AC/DC proves that even in the darkest moments there is always a sparkle of light. A tiny little flame that, when you dare to believe, can turn into a ball of fire that inspires generations. Happy jamming!

Play along with two brand new Elvis Costello tracks

Finally, after five year the waiting is over. Elvis Costello has reunited with his band The Imposters to enchant his fans once again. He describes the new album Look Now as a quest to find a combination between the sound of Imperial Bedroom (1982) and the emotion of Painted from Memory (1998).

Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs from 2013 was the last album that Costello served up. And it’s been a while since he produced anything new in the studio. The singles of this new record don’t beat around the bush. Under Lime and Unwanted Number are totally different, but also reflect the diversity of the experienced and versatile songwriter. We’ve Chordified both of them, so you can play along.

Unwanted Number

The track Unwanted Number  is written in G# minor. With a laid-back groove the song is like a warm and comfortable ride in the sun. The chords are a bit tricky because of the G# minor key, but we have a way to deal with this. Just place a capo on the first fret and you’ll see that you can recognize most of the chords.

Under Lime

While Unwanted Number is a warm blanket of minor chords, Under Lime is upbeat and jumpy. The track is set in A# and contains a lot of basic chords, like C, Em, F, and G. Try it out yourself and surprise your friends with these brand new Elvis Costello tracks. Happy jamming!

Guitar heavyweight champion Em is chord of the week

You can’t get a lower chord on your six string than the E minor (Em). It’s a heavyweight that demands and deserves attention and it’s an inspiration for musicians in every genre, because it possesses an almost infinite number of possibilities. Below you’ll find five songs that honor the diversity of this triad.

The E minor is part of the Em scale, that consists of the pitches E, F#, G, A, B, C and D. Don’t be afraid, we’re not going to bore you with difficult theories. The pitches serve as a mental note, to show that the songs in Em often contain the chords that derive from the scale they’re in.

Livin’ on a Prayer – Jon Bon Jovi 

Livin’ on a Prayer by the New Jersey band Bon Jovi is a classic from the ’80s. It’s also their first song to hit the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The track was released in 1986 on the record Slippery When Wet and to this day it’s one of Bon Jovi’s most famous songs.

Looking at the chord progression we see that the whole song consists of four chords, namely the Em, C, D, and G. There’s an interesting thing happening at the end, where the band transposes the chorus to a G minor chord. That’s why you see the same intervals but played higher. You don’t have to do this in a jam. Stick to the normal progression and it’s likely that nobody will notice. But it never hurts to try.

I’d Rather Be with You – Bootsy Collins 

I’d Rather Be with You by funk legend Bootsy Collins transmits a completely different vibe than Livin’ on a Prayer. The 1976 track is one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop. For example, 2Pac, Eazy-E and even Beyoncé used the song in their tracks.

The funk classic produced by Bootsy Collins and George Clinton is built around an interesting bass line. The foundation of the track is made up of the chords E, Em, A, Am, C, D and G. The transition from minor to major may seem strange, but in funk it’s common to play around with the third, because it adds punch to the groove.

Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues

Well it seems that the chord of the week has turned into a list of classics, so why not throw in another epic song like Nights in White Satin by the British band The Moody Blues. The song appeared on the 1967 album Days of Future Passed and it’s about the silk sheets that front man Justin Hayward got from a friend. The song is radiating unrequited love and desire.

The track is written in Em and the chord is also dominantly present alternating with D, A, C, G and F. In the bridge where the famous fluit solo can be heard we hear a transition to B, Am and B7. In your own jam you could choose to leave this part out.

Losing Your Mind – Raury and Jaden Smith

The song gathered fame as a title on the soundtrack of the Netflix series The Get Down. At first sight Losing Your Mind, written by Raury and Jaden Smith, doesn’t fit in our list of Em classics, or does it? You are right, the version used in The Get Down is a new track, but its inspiration comes from the hit Vitamin C from 1972 which was written by the German krautrock band CAN. Now that’s a classic.

The original chord progression doesn’t differ that much from the remix by Jaden Smith and Raury. We encounter the same trick that Bootsy Collins used, where he switched between thirds. This is not surprising as this track has a funky vibe and the bass line plays a leading role. We could argue that the composition is more about rhythm than about melody. Try it out for yourself.

Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

One of the most famous ballads from the nineties is perhaps Nothing Else Matters by Metallica. The track made so much impact that the band decided to re-release the track in 1999 in collaboration with a classical music orchestra.

The song contains a lot of technical strumming, but can ultimately be reduced to a few basic chords. The verse consists mainly of Em, C, D, G and the chorus of C, D and A. Therefore, this track is a perfect addition to your setlist. If you’re an advanced guitar player, try out some strumming. Otherwise, just stick to the chords. Happy jamming!

Chord of the week – Could there be a cooler triad than the C major?

The chord that you’ll find in almost every evergreen is the C major. This basic triad is an absolute must for any guitar player to master. That’s why the C is our ‘chord of the week’. Check our Instagram for more Chordify frenzy.

Yes nice huh, finally a chord that’s central to the piano’s tonal spectrum, as the E is for the guitar. Where the E forms the basis for the guitar, the C plays a similar role on the black and white keys of your Steinway or Bösendorfer. An octave on a piano does not go from E to E, but from C to C. This is a great opportunity to try Chordify out on a piano if you have the chance.

Skinny Love – Bon Iver

A song that completely embraces the key of C is the track Skinny Love from indie rocker Bon Iver. To simulate his specific sound on your own guitar, you’ll need to tune the instrument to an open C tuning. That means you’ll have to tune the strings from low to high as follows: C, G, E, G, C, C. If you do not want too much hustle and you still want to include this song in your jam set, just play it in the standard E tuning.

The chord progression is not very special. You can quickly see that there are five basic chords and a somewhat unusual triad. The Gsus4 is a barre chord in which the tone G and the tone C appear double in octave form. That is how they reinforce each other. This is no coincidence, because the G is the fifth step in the C scale. The harmony between the root and the fifth is better known as a power chord. In this case it’s a double power chord.

Wind of Change – Scorpions

Scorpions – that we’ve gotten acquainted with in our historical album of the month Tokyo Tapes – wrote a song in C that would later become the anthem of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Wind of Change is not very difficult when it comes to chord progression, but it is certainly not easy either.

The difficulty is the timing and although the chords themselves are not too difficult, you do have to deal with a Dm and an F that follow each other. Since this is not a standard transition, it takes some practice to reposition your fingers in quick succession. Practice makes perfect. The same applies to the whistling part, by the way.

The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey

Enough of the old folks’ music! It’s time for a fresh breeze, again from Germany. The Middle by the German producer Zedd in collaboration with singer Maren Morris and the music duo Grey has been in the Billboard charts for months now. Although we are talking about electropop here, the chords in the song are perfect for practicing your basics.

If you want to practice the most important chords of the pop industry at the top of your guitar neck, this is your track. Just check out the progression which takes you from D to G, C, Em, A, Am all the way to the E. All this at a fairly easy pace. See it as jogging on the guitar. It improves your stamina, your strength and your reflexes.

Never be the Same – Camila Cabello

Fun fact: singer Camila Cabello also auditioned for The Middle. After the rejection, Cabello knew she would Never be the Same again. Apart from all the craziness this Billboard-high-scoring-hit, just like the one mentioned above, is an ideal opportunity to practice the basics of chord progression.

Unlike the track by Zedd, here we see a number of chords that also belong to the basics, but are used less often. The Dm and the F, for example. The bridge of the song contains an A#, a Cm and a Gm. With these barre chords it is a matter of practicing strength and suppleness of your fingers in order to play the triad clearly.

Everything Now – Arcade Fire

The idea that everything resembles each other and is not very innovative is reflected in the lyrics of Everything Now by Arcade Fire. Of course this could be seen as justified criticism, but somehow we always know how to produce new-sounding tracks with a few chords. So it’s a bit true and a bit untrue.

This final song is a great exercise for the advanced guitar player to quickly grab easy and trickier chords in a row. The song itself has a laid-back feel and is therefore a fine addition to your jam. It even has a groovy ABBA riff on the piano, so if your piano keys are within reach don’t be afraid to tryout this track. Happy jamming!

Six songs, three chords, how hard can it be?

Occasionally you will need to add some new songs to your jam. Now this doesn’t always have to be difficult. As we like to say: keep it simple so nothing can go wrong. That’s why we’ve selected six songs that are built up from a maximum of three chords per track. This way you can keep it simple.

Evergreens always do well around the campfire. And a lot of golden songs are not too difficult to play either. Below you will find six tracks, all of them can be played with only three chords. Not all the chords of the songs below are the same of course, we don’t want you to get bored.

Satisfaction – Rolling Stones

Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones is the classic example of a three-chord song. It follows the traditional blues progression in which the verse consists of two chords, and the chorus uses a third one. In this case it is the pure basis of E, D, and A. And yes, there is a B7 in the song. So technically speaking there are four chords in this track. But the role of the B7 is so insignificant that you can neglect it and play an E instead.

All Apologies – Nirvana

All Apologies of the nineties heroes Nirvana is written in a drop D tuning. That means you’ll have to tune the lower E string of your guitar one tone down to a D. That’s why the chords you see are a bit strange. Fortunately, there is wonderful tool called the capo. When you put a capo on the fourth fret, the chord progression changes into the familiar basic triads A, D, and E.

Wicked Games – Chris Isaak

When it comes to powerful songs, Wicked Games by Chris Isaak is definitely such a track. The ambiguous text, the ever-increasing tension and the sultry desire that the track radiates fits into any jam. The chords are also super basic, namely Bm, A, and E. Okay, Bm might indeed be a bar chord, but it really isn’t that much different from the B major.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. T.I, Pharrell

It doesn’t get easier than Robin Thicke’s hit with Pharrell. The song consists mainly of the chords D and G. The most important is the strumming pattern, which is essentially that you play the chord on the first beat of the bar only. In the transition to the chorus you hear a bass lick that starts on the C note and works its way up to the D. Here you can just play a C. That’s all you need to know for playing Blurred Lines.

Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a must in a campfire jam. Just because the guy is classical rock hero. Like All Apologies, his song Nebraska has a somewhat challenging chord scheme, that is, until you put the capo on fourth fret. Try it for yourself and watch how suddenly everything changes to the basic E, A, and D.

Walk of Life – Dire Straits

For the grand finale we have a really timeless song. Even if you don’t know the Dire Straits, you know this tune. Walk of Life is one of the most famous songs the band ever made. Again, this track consists of only three chords. The E, B, and A are again combined in a success formula. Now all you have to do is practice the vocal line. Check our Campfire Essentials channel for more songs to spice up your setlist. Happy jamming!

How to choose an electric guitar for beginners

Choosing a new guitar is a beginner’s first important step. After all, you’re at the advent of an infinite adventure. So, choose wisely, efficiently and make sure you ‘inform yourself before you wreck yourself.’ Just like in part one and two of this series we’ll focus on choosing your first guitar. In this case an electric six string.

An instrument is like a tool, so it’s important that you know what you want to use it for. It’s counterproductive, at the least, to use a sledge hammer to straighten out thin nails in a spongy wooden board. Just as demolishing a brick wall with a screwdriver is quite a challenge. As we’ll see learning to play guitar adheres to comparable rules. So, think carefully about what you want to learn and choose the instrument that best suits your needs.

Why an electric guitar?

Why choose an electric guitar at all? You can also tinker with and sing along to an acoustic specimen. Right? No. Well, to follow the ‘what suits your needs’ dictum; if you want this, then an acoustic instrument is for you. But that’s a story for another article.

So, what’s your incentive? Maybe you aspire to be the next Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Dimebag Darrell. Then this post is for you. We briefly explain how an electric guitar works, we’ll get you acquainted with the basic models and which brands are preferred by which genre. See this article as a convenient starting point for your search.

Difference between acoustic and electric guitars

There’s an obvious, yet essential difference between an acoustic six string and an electric six string. The first amplifies the strings’ vibrations through the hollow body of the guitar, that functions as a sound box. The latter’s functioning is a little more complicated.

An electric guitar has magnets attached to the body that pick up mechanical vibrations, which is why these parts are called pickups. They transmit the vibrations as an electrical signal through the guitar’s jack output, and via a cable into your amplifier. This whole process depends on electric power and signals. That’s why it’s called an electric guitar, and of course the sound is electrifying.

Sound

The sound of the electric guitar does not solely rely on power. Below we will discuss the other important factors that make up the sound. This will give you a good idea of what an electric guitar does and what you need to pay attention to when you choose one.

We’ll discuss the impact of the type of wood that is used to produce the body and neck. This is not as decisive as with an acoustic instrument, but it still plays an important role. Another factor to be aware of are the guitar’s pickups, which can alter the sound in different ways. And last but not least, of course, there are the different brands and models that match the sound of particular genres.

Body

Let’s start with the body. Different electric guitar models have different types of sound boxes. These are almost always made of wood. The type of wood is important when it comes to the weight of the instrument and the tone and color of the sound. For example, mahogany has a full and thick sound, but it’s fairly heavy in terms of weight. Essen wood is light and the sound is clear and higher than other woods. This way every type of wood has its own characteristics, as you can see here.

In addition to the material, it’s also important to note that there are three types of body shapes. The solid-body means that the sound box consists of a solid piece of wood. In contrast, a semi hollow-body has a small hollow space between the front and the back of the sound box, similar but slightly smaller than that of an acoustic guitar. In the case of the hollow-body this space is even larger. Both often have a carved-out F-shaped figure in order to enhance the resonation of the sound.

Single coils

The body of the guitar houses most of its electronics, i.e. the pickups, switches and wires. These are essentially copper-wound magnets that absorb vibrations of the strings, making it possible to amplify the sound. There’s many different pickup brands. But in the end, you can divide them all into two groups: single coils and humbuckers.

The single coils produce a clear and thin sound. They are often used in funk, blues and grunge. If you’re looking for that Jimi Hendrix sound, keep in mind that he mainly played on guitars with single coils. Also remember that the advantage of a thinner sound is that you can always make it thicker with effect pedals. The other way around is much more cumbersome.

Humbuckers

At first glance humbuckers look like two single coils that are glued together. That’s true to a certain extent, but because of the way they are wired, a humbucker is really one independent element and not two.

You can test the different sounds by using the switch, also on the body, to alternate between the different pickups. Depending on the guitar, you can switch both single coils on at the same time or one at a time. Compare the sound with that of a humbucker.

The humbucker sound is thicker and fuller than a single coils’. This makes it ideal for heavier genres like rock, hard rock and metal. From Slash to Dimebag Darrell, humbuckers all the way. Do you like John Mayer? Than you shouldn’t pick a guitar with humbuckers.

Stratocaster

John Mayer plays – just like Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix – on a Fender Stratocaster. This is one of the most iconic models. It’s probably the first model you think of when you try to picture an electric guitar.

The instrument is classically equipped with a solid-body and three single coils, although some deviant versions are equipped with humbuckers. It has twenty-one frets, two tone controls, one master volume and a pickup switch. Want a bluesy, funky sound? Then this is your guitar. It has a typical screeching sound that’s still recognizable when you thicken it with effects.

Les Paul

Just like the Stratocaster, Gibson’s Les Paul model is a classic. It’s a solid-body equipped with two humbuckers, two tone controls, two volume buttons and a three-way pickup switch. You can send the signal through the upper, lower or both humbuckers.

You could say that the Les Paul is exactly on the other side of the spectrum, opposite the Stratocaster. A Les Paul model has a heavy, full and deep sound and is also heavier in terms of physical weight. Not that fitting when you want to play crystal clear tunes, because they sound a bit woolly. But, it’s perfect for heavy riffs, full chords and thick solos. Slash, Zakk Wylde, Lenny Kravitz and Jimmy Page use this monster for good reasons.

Streamliner

To reproduce that ol’ growling rock ‘n roll sound of Chuck Berry, or the fine sound of Chet Atkins, you need a hollow-body. Gretsch’s Streamliner is one of the best-known guitars in this category. The humbuckers give a specific heavy sound, but the high tones are a bit slenderer.

This guitar model also lends itself to blues. It’s for good reasons that Bo Diddley usually played on a Gretsch Streamline. The ‘king of rock ‘n roll’, Mr. Presley, was also fond of it. So, if you love that nice vintage sound, check out the hollow-body models.

Artcore

Ibanez is known for its heavy solid-body guitars, which are often used in the metal genre. But the guitar manufacturer also made the semi-hollow Artcore in the seventies. Together with Gibson’s ES-335 this is one of the most famous semi hollow-body guitars.

These guitars are perfect for country, blues and fusion. You can use it in any direction you want. The sound is full of crisp and clear mid-tones. This allows you to combine the warm and full characteristic of the hollow body with the tight sounds of the solid-body. These guitars are often equipped with humbuckers.

Many others

To keep it simple we will not go into too much detail, lest we deliver you a headache. The models discussed in this article constitute the basic designs for the various other electric guitars that came after. Still, we can’t ignore a number of other varieties of the electric six string.

If you’re a real metal head it pays to immerse yourself in brands like B.C. Rich and Dean, besides Ibanez and Gibson of course. As a rocker you should also check the Jaguar and Telecaster models from Fender. Gibson’s SG series are also a must to try out in a music store, it’s the favorite guitar of both Angus Young and Tony Iommi.

Choices, choices, choices

We understand, you read all this and think, “What is it all about? I just want to play on a good and not too expensive guitar. Just give me some concrete brands! It would be really nice to be able to do that, but as you might suspect it will not happen.

You have to work out for yourself what guitar fits your needs. For a cheaper alternative you can also look at what brands offer good copies of the more expensive ones that were mentioned above. Don’t buy a far too expensive Fender right away and never play on it!

Walk into a music store and start trying one guitar after another with this basic knowledge. Take your time with it, because the better your choice, the longer you’ll enjoy it. As with everything else in life, the following applies: ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance’. Happy jamming!