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Shine around the campfire with these tracks in D major – chord of the week

Have you checked out our Instagram account? That’s where, if you follow us, we’ll update you weekly with a ‘chord of the week.’ This week is all about the D major. Read below to find five tracks that are based on this chord. Ideal for a rock circle around the campfire.

Everybody knows the D major, right? Yes, we’re talking about the inverted triangle-shaped chord played on the G, B and high E string. This chord sounds clear, cheerful and fresh. It is often a good addition to songs written in the keys G, C or A minor. This week the D major is not an addition, but at the center of attention.

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

When everyone’s cuddling up at the campfire, it’s always good to include some old-school tracks in your repertoire. How about Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison. The song consists of the four basic chords G, C, D and E minor. It’s ideal for novice guitarists and a guaranteed success. Who can stay quiet during the bridge: “Jalalalalalaaaladida, brown eyed girl!” No one, of course. Start practicing.

No Woman – Whitney

For the more advanced beginner it’s important to practice the basic chords as well as the more difficult barre handles. A song like No Woman by the band Whitney is perfect for this kind of training. In this track we find the well-known open chords E, Em, A, D and G. The challenge lies in the B and the B minor. Both chords are a barre grip. The only difference is the third. If you look closely you can see the resemblance between the Am and the A, only now played two frets higher. Try it out.

Let Her Go – Passenger

Did you know that British singer songwriter Michael David Rosenberg played in a band called Passenger? After the band fell apart in 2009, Rosenberg decided to keep the name for his solo project. Under that name he released the track Let Her Go in 2012. The song was in the top three of the Billboard charts for months. It’s a track that fits in every summer jam. Like Whitney’s song, Let Her Go is composed almost entirely out of basic chords, with the exception of B.

Mamma Mia – Abba

The Swedish heroes are back. Celebrate this cheerful news with an Abba jam. How about grooving to the song Mamma Mia from 1975. Although the track initially sounds bombastic, the basis is just  piano and guitar. We can reduce the core to just a few chords: D, G, A and C. As you can see here, there are also a number of lesser known chords in the track. This is a good opportunity to try them out.

Time to Pretend – MGMT

If you want to score a big hit, keep it simple. This motto certainly applies to MGMT. Time to Pretend is the shining example of this. When you look at the chord scheme you’ll immediately notice how the song evolves around the D, G and A, with a little exception in the bridge where the band plays an F-sharp minor. Because of the quick alternation of chords, this song is a good exercise for both beginning and advanced guitarists. Happy jamming!

Five songs written in the key of A major – chord of the week

We have something new! We’ll be posting a chord on Instagram every week, starting today. This is going to be our chord of the week. Follow our account and check it out for yourself. This week we zoom in on A major. Jam along with a number of tracks that are written in this key.

How cool to select a chord of the week, but what does this mean for you? Well, enjoy playing along with some cool songs that are written with this chord as the keynote. We listed a few classics below, that are in A major. Just some inspiration for those moments around the campfire, on the beach or in the park.

Blitzkrieg Bob – Ramones

A classic punk song in A major is Blitzkrieg Bop by the British band Ramones. This song consists of four chords, and it’s perfect for practicing your basic finger placements. For the advanced beginner, this is an obvious opportunity to try out a slightly more difficult grip like the barré B minor. Just jam along here and check it out.

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley

With spring in your heart and summer approaching, you shouldn’t miss a Bob Marley song in your setlist. It’s a good thing that the reggae legend has written Three Little Birds in A major. More good news? Oh yes, this song consists of only three chords. Perfect for beginners and a lot of fun for advanced guitar players. So play along.

Champagne Supernova – Oasis

An Oasis song is essential to every jam session, whether on the beach or during a picnic in the park. Don’t ask why, just take out your guitar and start practicing the brit-pop hit Champagne Supernova. This song is a great opportunity to try out some of the more challenging chords. Like the F, the F-sharp and the F-sharp minor. If you look closely at this chord scheme, you will see that there is not much difference in finger placement between these three chords.

Help! – The Beatles

Now that we’re on the subject of brit-pop, The Beatles have also written a few very fine tracks in A major. How about the hit Help! from 1965. Just like the previous song, you can get out of your comfort zone and try out trickier chords like C-sharp minor and B minor. Just look at the diagrams of these two chords. The figure doesn’t really change, except for the fret position.

The A Team – Ed Sheeran

At first sight this Ed Sheeran song might sound simple, but it’s certainly a challenge, also for the advanced guitarist. It has fast chords changes, tight strokes and of course it’s written in A major. The A Team has it all, check it out for yourself. In this song we also encounter the chords F-sharp minor and B minor. Would they be in the standard chord structure of A major? Happy jamming!

Frightened Rabbit’s frontman Scott Hutchison passed away at the age of 36

Scott Hutchison, the frontman of the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, has passed away. His body was found this morning by the Scottish police in Southern Queensferry outside Edinburgh. Hutchison had been struggling with depression for years.

Thursday night the singer songwriter posted some disturbing tweets after he went missing. “Be so good to everyone you love. It’s not a given. I’m so annoyed that it’s not. I didn’t live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones. Followed by: “I’m away now. Thanks.”

Restlessness

His family and friends became worried and called the local authorities. The band posted a message on Facebook in response to Scott’s tweets: “If you see this Scott, please call this confidential number (116 000) to talk to someone. We just want  you to feel better and safe and fully understand if you need time to yourself right now. We are worried and we love you so much.”

Floating in the Forth

The worries were not unfounded. This morning the police found Hutchison’s remains in the river near Forth Road Bridge. The location is not random. The album The Midnight Organ Fight, released in 2008, contains the song Floating in the Forth. In which the front man sings:: “And fully clothed, I float away. Down the Forth, into the sea.” The song ends with the words “I think I’ll save suicide for another year.”

Frightened Rabbit

Hutchison founded the Scottish indie rock band in 2003 and named it after the nickname given to him by his mother. Frightened Rabbit has recorded five studio albums over the years. Earlier this year the band had announced a tour to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the album Midnight Organ Fight.

Covert covers – part one

Have you ever been in a discussion with people who claim that Joe Cocker wrote the song With a Little Help From My Friends? Or even better: have you ever seen the expression on the face of a Marilyn Manson fan when he finds out that Tainted Love is a cover? There are actually a lot of great hits that weren’t written by the artist that you think wrote them. That’s why we uncover a few of them.

With a Little Help From My Friends

Now that we’re talking about the king of covers – Joe Cocker had his big breakthrough with The Beatles’ song With a Little Help From My Friends. The track was released in 1964 and was the singer’s second single. His debut song was I’ll Cry Instead which wasn’t a great success, but also a Beatles cover.

If I Were a Boy

Not only hippies from the sixties do covers. Nowadays it can even be found in genres like  hip-hop and R&B. For example, the song that was originally written by BC Jean has become a Beyoncé number one hit. The story goes that BC Jean offered her version of If I Were a Boy to different labels. Nobody wanted it. A year later, Beyoncé’s song was released, which was a literal cover of the song written by BC Jean.

All Along the Watchtower

Depending on which generation you’re addressing, people will have their own view on All Along the Watchtower. Where one labels John Mayer as the author of the song, someone else will overturn this fact with the knowledge that Mayer has clearly covered the track from Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 album Electric Ladyland. What most people won’t tell you is that Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan wrote and recorded the track one year earlier in 1967.

Valerie

Amy Winehouse is a legend. At the age of 27, the young pop star died as a result of what can be described as a demanding lifestyle. With songs like Valerie Winehouse scored high in the 2006 pop charts. Still, against all expectations, the track is a cover. Indie-rock band The Zutons from Liverpool released the original song in the same year.

Hound Dog

It is a well known fact that Elvis Presley directly copied many of his songs from the R&B charts. This was very common in the fifties and sixties. Different groups listened to very defined musical styles. The song Hound Dog from 1969 is actually a cover of a Big Mama Thornton track from 1953.

Tainted Love

Anyone who claims that Tainted Love is a track by Marilyn Manson is right. The shock rocker released the song on his record The Golden Age of Grotesque in 2003. It is also a cover of… no, not Soft Cell. She conjured up the song in 1981, but this was also a cover. The original track is by Gloria Jones. Jones released the song in 1964.

Torn

Do you remember that video clip from the nineties by the Australian pop star Natalie Imbruglia? Natalie is standing in the center of a film set where the video is being recorded. Each time she has to adapt to the situation. Sometimes because the director wants her to, other times because something goes wrong. Torn marked Imbruglia’s breakthrough, however, it is a cover of the American grunge band Ednaswap.

Hurt

Country singer Johnny Cash scored his last big hit with Hurt in 2002 just before his death. The song goes through bone and marrow, because you hear Cash sing his life story. A life of pain, sorrow and love. It is therefore difficult to acknowledge that the track was written eight years earlier in 1994 by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails for the record The Downward Spiral. Yes we know, it hurts.

Jam along!

Did you get inspired by the fact that the songs mentioned above are actually covers? Time to jam along and create your own version. Now you can even enlighten your audience with the truth behind All Along the Watchtower, With a Little Help From My Friends and Hurt, Take a moment in between songs to feed your listeners some paradigm breaking trivia.

Pay particular attention to how people react when they find out that Torn, Tainted Love, Valerie, Hound Dog and If I Were a Boy were not written by the artists they had in mind. Happy jamming!

Always be yourself, unless you can be an ukulele player

The ukulele is one of the most famous and accessible string instruments of our time. From the moment it was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants to the present day, this cute guitar has the power to make anybody smile. Today we are celebrating this with International Play Your Ukulele Day.

When Manuel Nunes, José do Espírito Santo, and Augusto Dias moored their ship the SS Ravenscrag on the Hawaiian coast in 1879 to cut down some sugar cane, no one could have imagined that this trio would change Western pop music forever.

The Jumping Flea

The local population welcomed the three guys with open arms. In turn, to thank the locals for their warm welcome, the woodworkers from Madeira gave away one of their homemade instruments. This small guitar inspired by the Portuguese cavaquinho is what is now better known as the ukulele.

Queen Kalakaua was captivated by the instrument. The cheerful sound and easy handling of the cute guitar made the ukulele very attractive to the queen. That was why she regularly played it during meetings in her palace.

Because of this love for the ukulele the instrument became a hit on Hawaii. The name ukulele refers to its cheerful sounds which, according to Kalakaua, resembles a jumping flea: a ukulele.

America under the spell of the ukulele

The “jumping flea” crosses over to America some thirty-six years after its arrival in Hawaii. The Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco marks the breakthrough of the small guitar in the United States. The first ukulele-hype lasts about five years from the exhibition in 1915.

During that period the instrument was often used by the composers of Tin Pan Alley–the place in New York where hundreds of musicians wrote pop music on a daily basis. Around 1920, the small guitar disappeared from the mainstream for a while but re-entered the scene again after the Second World War with Arthur Godfrey’s television programme.

For fifteen minutes, every week, Godfrey uses the television medium to teach his audience how to play the ukulele. As the television itself becomes more and more an accessible device after the war, the popularity of the small guitar is suddenly increasing again as well: the second ukulele-hype is a fact. The plastic version of the guitar, available through TV-pal, saw more than nine million copies of the instrument sold.

The United Kingdom jams along

The jumping flea not only jumps happily around in the United States. Certainly not.  When the British discovered the instrument, a true ukulele fever occurred in 1930. One of the most famous ukulele players of that time was the comedian George Formby.

Formby uses the instrument to accompany his songs during shows. One such song that is still seen as an ukulele classic is When I’m Cleaning Windows. It is the gateway song that encourages the general British public to buy a ukulele.

After the sixties the little guitar disappears back to the underground again and stays there until crazy hipster Tiny Tim scores the hit Tiptoe Through the Tulips. This gave the ukulele an eccentric stamp and it remained a popular instrument for artists outside the mainstream ever since.

Playing the ukulele

Playing the ukulele is not as difficult to master in comparison to a guitar. Moreover, the instrument is not as expensive as a guitar. The small size makes it easy to bring along on a trip with you, or to friends. That said, it is important to know how to tame the jumping flea, or in other words: there are two accepted tunings for the four strings.

The first one is in the key of D. The strings are tuned in A, D, Fis and B starting from the lowest and working your way up to the highest. The second tuning is in the key of C. Again we work our way from the lower strings up. This means that your strings are tuned in G, C, E and A. Keep in mind that the 4th string (the string closest to your chest when in playing position) is actually the second-highest sounding string, as opposed to a guitar’s sixth string that produces the lowest note on a guitar.

An ukulele also includes a variety of accessories that help you make playing even easier. Such as, for example, a tuning device, a sleeve, and a stand. Very similar to what you basically need for a guitar.

Play Your Ukelele Day

During the international Play Your Ukulele Day, we’ll do a shout out to everyone to pick up the little guitar and enjoy jamming along with hits as Somewhere over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, or Rise by Eddie Vedder.

And there are a few more tracks that you can use to steal the show today, that’s why we’ll list them below. But not before we’ve provided you with three cool trivia about the ukulele that you can tell your audience between the songs.

Did you know that Beatles’ guitarist George Harrison had a pile of ukuleles in his trunk for years. Just to hand out and jam with random people? Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder even recorded an entire album with the jumping flea! And one of the most famous pop stars of the moment is a very talented ukulele player.. Yes, we are talking about Taylor Swift.

Three tracks to steal the show on your ukulele

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole with the medley Over The Rainbow’ & ‘What A Wonderful World may seem like a challenge, but if you don’t try it, you won’t know if it works for you. With this medley you really have a twofer! Maybe you are in a more melancholic mood? Then play along with Eddie Vedder’s Rise. This song is of the soundtrack of the motion picture Into the Wild.

If you want to honour the classics, then squeeze your throat and do your best imitation of cult hero Tiny Tim. Tiptoe through the Tulips is for the real ukulele connoisseur. For more inspiration check out our ukelele channel. Enjoy and happy jamming!

Five chords that will turn every campfire into a rockshow

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising, and the flowers are in bloom–enough reasons to light up a campfire, grab your guitar and burst into song. To turn every campfire into a rock show, we’ve drawn up five chords with which you can play almost any pop song.

The holy grail of the pop industry has always been based on only five basic chords. “No, that can’t be true”, we hear you thinking. Yes, it can! From Lady Gaga’s Poker Face to Van Morrisons’ Brown Eyed Girl. You can play them all with five basic chords.

Intervals

The secret of the five chords is not the specific chord diagram, but the interval between the chords. Let’s take a look at Poker Face by Lady Gaga. If you click here you will see that the original track is in G-sharp Minor. But what happens when you click on the capo tool and place it on the fourth fret as shown on the picture below?

Indeed, you see that the chords suddenly changed to the very basic E/Em, C, D, and G chords. Logically, you can now just play the song at the top of the guitar neck. The only difference is that you no longer sing in the tricky G-sharp Minor, but in E Minor.

 

The secret of the five chords

When we talk about five basic chords, we’re talking about the D/Dm, the A/Am, the G/Gm, E/Em, and C/Cm chords. Now we hear you thinking again: “These are ten chords!” Well, yes and no. When you look at the construction of basic chords, you see that the minor or major is determined by only the third (interval).

The root and fifth remain the same, so you’re really talking about an almost identical chord with a different mood. For the sake of convenience, therefore, we have taken the root note of the basic chords as our starting point. Another secret of the five chords is that they occur more often in a combination of four than all five at the same time.

Campfire hit

Let’s see how that works for different songs. Take, for example, Rockstar ft. 21 Savage by Post Malone. As with the Lady Gaga example, the first thing you see is an impressive display of chords that you probably didn’t know existed. Press the capo tool, place it on the third fret, and voila!

These are simply basic chords again! Yes, there is indeed a strange C major seventh in there, but if you look closely it is actually a simplified C: the chord diagram resembles the “normal” C major chord, only the index finger on the B-string is missing. In other words, you can play the standard C chord and choose whether or not to fret the B-string.

Capo Tool

In short: don’t be fooled by chords that initially seem difficult. It’s not a disaster that you don’t know what an A-sharp major seventh is. Play around a little with the capo tool and you can transpose this chord to a more understandable pitch, such as C.

Caution! In theory, you don’t have to put a capo on your guitar, you can just use the tool to see if you can convert a song to the recognizable five chords that you can then just grab at the top of the guitar neck (also called ‘first position’).

Simplicity is key

If you still end up with more difficult chords, always look at the fundamentals like the root tone and at the third. Returning to the C major seventh from the Post-Malone track, you know that the root is a C and that this chord is in major. In other words, you can simplify the chord by playing a normal C major.

Simplicity is key when jamming at the campfire. Remember this and apply it to every song you want to play. This way you change every campfire you sit at into a real rock show. Try it out and if you need more inspiration check out the YouTube video above. Happy jamming!

Five ways to overcome your stage fear

Have you ever performed on a stage for a group of people? If so, then you know that this can be quite exciting. It all seems very magical in advance, but when it’s time to shine the nerves play up. It is not always easy to be at the center of attention. So, prepare yourself with these five tips.

 

Tip 1 – Know your stuff inside out

You’ve probably heard the motto: proper preparation prevents poor performance. In the case of performing this is the way the cookie crumbles. It’s important that you can play your part blindfolded, especially when you have no stage experience. This can only be achieved by practicing everything to the letter.

Now that you’re training for your rockathon make sure it’s in a similar setting to the one you’re going to perform in. No, you can’t build a pub or a concert hall in your attic. What you can do is imagine how you are on that stage.

Are you sitting on a stool, are you standing in a power stance? Think about it and practice your stage presence in the way that you are going to perform it. This is the only way to get to know your stuff inside and out.

Tip 2 – Visualize the perfect performance

If you’re not playing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare your mind for the gig. Visualize your performance with the most successful outcome. Pretend that it already happened and you’re looking back at the show. The most important thing is that you actually believe for a moment that you really did the gig and that it was truly successful.

Your brain cannot distinguish the difference between real and fake as long as you are completely convinced of your reality. Therefore, try to visualize everything in detail. How did it feel to be on stage? How did the crowd respond? How did it feel to play flawless? Do it a few times and thank us later!

Tip 3 – Physical training

Nerves are tapping into your energy reserves, so it’s good to work out on the day of your performance. Drain your energy with some sports. Working out forces your body to produce endorphins which are substances that enhance self-confidence and reduce stress.

You don’t have to run a half a marathon before your gig. Some powerlifting will do the trick, but don’t wear yourself out too much. Don’t like lifting weights? A healthy walk for at least half an hour is enough to start the production of endorphins. Needless to say that you’re aim isn’t to be completely broken on stage.

Tip 4 – Play for your favorite person

An advice that is often cited when we talk about performing for a large audience is: visualize the crowd naked. Sounds weird? It is. What you can do is imagine playing for your favorite person. Is it your father, your mother, or your best friend?

Whoever it may be, pretend that everyone in the audience is that one person who wishes you all the love and happiness in the world. This psychological hack provides peace of mind and self-confidence. That’s why it’s perfect for giving away a top performance.

Tip 5 – Avoid stimulants

Avoid everything that will boost your heart rate. An enhanced heartbeat in combination with being nervous isn’t a great combination at all. Stimulants such as caffeine have this effect. An increased heart rate makes you more concentrated and self-aware. This may sound as a good thing, but when you’re tense, it actually means you get even more stressed out.

So don’t drink coffee or energy drinks before you go on stage. Take a glass of citrus juice instead. The substances in citrus lower your heart rate. This will make you calmer, more relaxed and ready to rumble.

Final thoughts

All the tips mentioned above will help you tame the worst panic attacks. Keep in mind, however, that some tension is good. You can bite your nails for a while, as long as the stress disappears the moment you go on stage.

If that’s not the case, keep in mind that the audience also consists of people just like you. All of those spectators would have been just as tense, or even worse, if standing in your shoes. Let them know that by telling your audience that you’re nervous. Drag everybody in the joint into your reality. It’s part of the game and it makes it more fun. Happy jamming!

How do I choose a good beginner’s guitar? Part 2: Acoustic Guitars

Playing the guitar is an adventure, and much of it depends on choosing the right kind for you. In part 1 of this quest for a good beginner’s guitar, we already discussed how to choose between an acoustic and an electric guitar. In this section we will zoom in on the three most well-known versions of the acoustic six string.

If you like Ed Sheeran, Paco de Lucia and Bon Iver, an acoustic guitar will suit your taste. It has the sound you need to jam on a quiet, a raw or a passionate song. Below we discuss three types of acoustic guitars. This will help you choose your beginner’s instrument even better.

Classical Guitar

Every instrument has a foundation; something for the creative mind to explore, develop and improve upon. Although the Spanish guitar has its predecessors, we see the classical instrument as the basis for most modern guitars. When we talk about a Spanish guitar, we refer to the model as conceived by Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817-1892).

With his six strings, the nineteenth-century guitarist and luthier has laid the foundation for the contemporary version of the instrument. The Torres model was superior to the guitars that his competitors build, so guitar makers started to copy the Torres design.

Characteristics Spanish Guitar

The Torres axe is characterized by the beautiful double O curves of the small body. The body is often built of solid spruce or cedar wood. The more firm the wood, the better it resonates with the strings. Additionally, the guitar has a wide neck so the strings are spaced farther apart than on other guitars. This makes the instrument very suitable for finger picking, but less practical for strumming chords.

The rosetta around the sound hole is a reference to the time when the Moors left their mark on Spanish music. The strings of a classical guitar are made of nylon (even the wound strings have a nylon core). This gives the instrument a warm and full sound. Of course, this material did not exist in the nineteenth century. That’s why Torres used strings made from the guts of pigs for his guitars.

Musical styles for the classical guitar

The Spanish guitar is very suitable for classical guitar pieces from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The work of Johann Sebastian Bach is often played on this instrument, but also contemporary composers such as Britten have written compositions for this guitar. Great guitarists in the classical genre are Andrés Segovia, John Williams, and Julian Bream.

Additionally, the classical guitar is a widely used instrument in Spanish folk music called flamenco. The genre is characterized by exciting rhythms and typical chord progressions. The basic chords for flamenco are Am, G, F, E. Famous flamenco guitarists include Paco de Lucia, Jerónimo Maya, and Charo.

Spanish jam

You can play a Spanish jam yourself by first strumming an A-minor chord, and than switching to E-major. From there on, you can slide this position one fret up. Strum the strings and progress another two frets up. This way you turn the E into an F, and the F into a G.

Because of its warm and full sound, the Spanish guitar is very suitable for intimate and more folky songs. Think, for example, of tracks that involve a lot of finger picking, such as the song Fragile by Sting. The width of the neck provides plenty of space to fret the notes, while the nylon strings ensure that the picking and fretting is less slippery (and less painful!) for your fingers.

Western guitar

But what if classical guitar and flamenco are not your thing? Well, then it’s probably better to not buy a Spanish guitar.. For the more mainstream pop and rock songs, the Western guitar is your instrument. It has a larger body, steel strings, and a narrow neck–through which a metal rod runs. The sound is a lot more snappy and bright than that of the classical guitar.

The history of the Western guitar can’t be traced back to one specific builder as easily like with the Spanish guitar. In fact, there are a number of guitar makers who exceeded all expectations in the early days of this instrument. They experimented with the size of the body, the thickness of the strings, and the action of the guitar.

Western guitar models

The four most famous models of the Western guitar are the double-0, the triple-0, the dreadnought and the super jumbo. The double-0 is almost an exact copy of the classical guitar when looking at the body alone, but the double-0 has a few small adjustments that are characteristic for the Western design. The neck is narrower, the strings are made of steel, and the body is slightly larger. The double-0 is in no way a Loog, but still the smallest of all Western guitars, and therefore most suitable for children.

To give the sound more power, guitar maker Christian Frederick Martin developed a model with a larger body at the beginning of the twentieth century: the so-called triple-0 guitar. This guitar has a slight convex back so as a result the body is not only larger, but also deeper, which makes the bass tones stand out better.

Due to the increase in volume, the triple-0 is also called a grand auditorium. The grand auditorium is a fine entry guitar and many guitarists find the medium-large model easy to handle. Eric Clapton even has his own signature Martin triple-0, the Martin 00028EC.

Dreadnought

C.F. Martin developed the dreadnought for the real bad boys in 1916. This type of guitar was the largest six string you could get on the market at that time. This axe model is named after the then largest warship HMS Dreadnought from 1906. The instrument is characterised by a larger body than the grand auditorium, it has oval square shoulders, and a neck that is connected to the body at the fourteenth fret.

The dreadnought is perhaps the most widely known Western guitar model. The instrument has a fuller, louder, and bolder sound. This makes it ideal for rock ballads and country. You can easily say that the dreadnought is for the Guns ‘n Roses, Elvis, and Johnny Cash lovers.

Super Jumbo

In response to Martin’s dreadnought, guitar maker Gibson built an even bigger and more brutal beast. The body of this guitar is so humongous that Gibson just simply named the six string exactly that: the Super Jumbo.

Artists like Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, and Chris Isaak embrace the super jumbo and its powerful sound. Still, this guitar has never been as big of a hit as the dreadnought. Because of the large body, the instrument is just too much to handle for the average beginner (and average-sized person).

Selmer guitar

Now I hear you thinking: ‘Pop is cool, rock is okay, classical and flamenco sound great, but I like jazz!’ To get that real jazzy sound–made famous by Jimmy Rosenberg, Django Reinhardt and Fapy Lafertin–you’ll have to look for a special model of guitar. The Selmer guitar–also known as the Gypsy jazz guitar–is a combination of elements found in a Western and a Spanish guitar.

The Selmer model is best known for its D-shaped sound hole, but sometimes an oval-shape (‘petite bouche’) is used instead of the D-shape. The original Selmer guitars date from 1932 to 1952 and were built by the French luthier Selmer and the Italian Mario Maccaferri.

Special model

The Gypsy jazz guitar is very similar to its Spanish sibling, in terms of the width of the neck and the distance between the frets. Additionally, we also see several characteristics of the Western guitar, such as the steel strings and the larger body.

The idea behind the D-shaped hole is that allegedly the sound of the strings will project better and any unevenness of the vibrations will be filtered out. The bridge is adjustable, in contrast to the Western and classical guitar bridges; Maccaferri copied this from the mandolin. The strings come together at the top of the neck in a snakehead-shaped headstock.

Rules of thumb for choosing an acoustic guitar

By now, you’ve got a pretty good idea of the different types of acoustic guitars. Brands such as Selmer, Gibson, Torres, and C.F. Martin are–of course–the cream of the crop among the models mentioned. That said, as a beginner you don’t necessarily need an expensive brand; what you do need is a decent guitar that’s easy to play and sounds great as well (to you, at least).

It is therefore important to know which materials make an instrument sound good. For example, the top–that’s the front of the body–is most commonly made out of cedar or spruce wood, as both resonate really well and also have their own distinct sound.

The top can be either solid wood or plywood–obviously more expensive guitars are mostly solid wood, but guitars with plywood tops can still sound great. Don’t be fooled by whatever clever marketing is out there and simply choose a guitar that meets the rules of thumb above, and you’ll have an instrument for life. Happy jamming!

How do I choose a good guitar for beginners? Part 1: Acoustic or electric

Learning to play guitar is an exploration. Your entering a new world that’s yours for the taking, but you shouldn’t lose sight of why you embarked upon this journey in the first place. Everything depends on what instrument you choose. If Chordify is your guide, the guitar will be your weapon, your shield and your best friend. But how do you know which guitar is up your alley?

It sounds simple: buy an instrument, take lessons and before you know it you’re jamming like Jimi. Right? Well, let’s start by picking a guitar that matches your preferences. Because, this step is just as important as it is simple. Your choice will determine the fun that you can get from playing and the direction it will take you. Our advice: choose wisely.

Stay close to yourself

“Start with a classic nylon string guitar. If you master that you’ll be able to play everything you want.” Is one of the most-heard advises people give when you set off on your guitar playing journey. There is essentially nothing wrong with this reasoning, if you’re a big fan of Paco de Lucia, and if you have enough time to sit in your armchair, studying classical music all day.

But what if you like Ed Sheeran and you want to play along with pretty pop songs. Is it still a good idea to buy a classic guitar and take lessons in the corresponding genre? Our answer: “no, of course not.” That’s like eating pancakes with a spoon or teaching the rules of soccer to football players. You can do it, but it will get you nowhere.

So, ask yourself the question: what do I want to learn? The easiest way of doing this is creating a list of five artists or bands plus five songs that make your heart skip a beat. This will take you a few steps closer to determining which guitar is the best match for you.

Acoustic vs electric

The next important choice is deciding whether you want an acoustic or an electric guitar. The difference? An acoustic guitar has a hollow body that naturally amplifies the vibrations of the strings. The advantage is that you can play everywhere, without dragging along a heavy amp. The disadvantage is of course that you’ll always be heard. Especially in the beginning, when you’re still prone to mistakes, this is more of a con than a pro.

Most electric guitars don’t have a hollow body. Your sound is carried to an amplifier by a cable that you plug in. Instead of a hole in the middle there are elements that pick up the vibrations of the strings and send them to the amplifier.

This allows the volume to be adjusted easily. You can even play with headphones on. But the advantage is also its downside. You always need an amplifier to get your sound across.

Genre

Now that we are starting to get a clearer image of the basic differences between acoustic and electric guitars it’s time get out your list of favorite artists and songs. What are the similarities between all the tracks and bands?

If your list is full of bands like AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses and Muse you’re clearly leaning towards rock. If, on the other hand, you have noted Ed Sheeran, Bon Iver and Nirvana, you’re probably more into indie and singer songwriters. Nice to know, right? But how on earth does this relate to choosing a guitar? Well…

Now that we have established your area of interest in the world of guitars, picking an instrument will be so much easier. You see, AC/DC on classic guitar will get you nowhere. With that goal in mind you’re better off getting an electric six string. For Bon Iver on the other hand, an acoustic western guitar will add miles of authenticity to your sound.

The adventure has only just begun

You’ve already gained a lot of wisdom as to what instrument floats your boat. The decision of playing an acoustic or electric guitar is a very good start. It will save you a lot of time and unnecessary grievances. While we have come a long way, it’s also only the beginning.

Whatever choice you made, both sides offer a wide variety of diverse instruments that are specific to the genre that you want to master. Are you going for a Spanish guitar or a western? Do like the Gibson sound or are your ears tuned to Fender?

In the next parts we will dive into this matter more deeply. Until that time, we advise you to pay a visit to your local guitar vender armed with the knowledge you’ve gained so far and try out some guitars. And when your there, download our app to play along to your favorite music. Happy jamming!

Step outside your comfort zone and jam along with these top three Billboard hip-hop tracks

If you’ve been jamming with Chordify long enough, you know that our catalogue can seem infinite. Which of course means that your jamming possibilities are as well. So now it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and play along with a genre in which guitar or piano are not the first instruments that come to mind: hip-hop.

Don’t get us wrong, we totally understand that you love to incorporate Ed Sheeran in your Saturday afternoon jam. But don’t you ever feel the need to play that one Post Malone song, or jam to a Kendrick Lamar tune? “That’s hip-hop right? There are no guitars and pianos, that’s just beats”, we hear you think. But think again!

Hip-hop dominates the Billboard top 10

Let’s take a look at the Billboard ranking list. Drake is number one with God’s Plan, followed by the king of groove, Bruno Mars, in third place. Scrolling through the charts we see that the top ten is packed with cool hip-hop tracks. Two Kendrick Lamar songs for example, one on which he collaborates with The Weeknd.

And those are not the only hip-hop songs in the Billboard top ten. How about Post Malone’s Rockstar, another Drake song, or last but not least Migos with Stir Fry in tenth place. You’ve got to admit that your fingers are starting to get itchy, right? That’s why we’ve selected three top ten hip-hop songs you can jam to.

1 – Drake: God’s Plan

Canadian rapper Drake has conquered the world since his debut album Thank Me Later that appeared in 2009 on the Young Money Entertainment label of colleague Lil Wayne. That same year the album became number one in the Billboard top 100. From that moment on, the rapper could not be stopped.

With his laid-back flows and wavy beats Drake belongs to the top of the popular music scene. Try to jam along with the song God’s Plan and you’ll understand why. The track is a nice mix of basic chords and barre chords. Perfect for training your grip. Check it out.

2 – Bruno Mars: Finesse

Peter Gene Hernandez from Honolulu, better known as Bruno Mars, has regularly been in the top 10 of the pop rankings in recent years. With songs likeBillionaire and 24k Magic, this artist has shown that he can play both funky and super poppy.

Besides being a singer and rapper, Bruno Mars is also a hell of a guitar player. His track Finesse currently peaks at number three on the Billboard charts right under Ed Sheeran. For the advanced guitar player this song is a challenge, due to all barre chords. And, if you’re a beginner, you can practice less-used chords like Dis and Es minor. Try it and jam along.

3 – Kendrick Lamar & SZA: All the Stars

When we talk about rappers, the name Kendrick Lamar must not be omitted. The man who grew up in the same place as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Coolio maintains an image of renewal in rap music. His lyrics build on stories from the hood, but from a contemporary perspective.

Like Bruno Mars’ previous track, this song is for the advanced guitarist. Once you’ve mastered the tricky grips, another challenge arises. The beat is very important in hip-hop, that’s why you should pay close attention to your right hand. That’s your strumming hand, that keeps the rhythm. Try it yourself. Happy jamming!