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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
Blisters on your fingertips. You probably know the feeling – just when you’re getting into the jam, your fingers start hurting. Of course you don’t want to be a whiner, so you stubbornly continue playing. The result: blisters. After which you can’t practice for a couple of days. Here are five tips to prevent this situation.
Blister Prevention Tip 1 – Practice regularly for short periods of time
Just started playing the guitar, or haven’t jammed in a while? Most likely your fingers are not used to pressing on strings. The result: pain and swelling of your fingertips. One of the best ways to cultivate calluses and get rid of the uncomfortable feeling, is to practice often.
Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Just keep in mind that your fingertips have to get used to the feeling. Especially in the beginning it’s important to keep your jam sessions short. Choose a song you want to play and practice it for a quarter of an hour. After fifteen minutes your fingertips are probably burning. Stop jamming and give them some rest.
Playing guitar is very addictive, yeah we know. But it’s also similar to playing sports. If you want to see fast results, you’ll have to rest as much as you train. That’s why our advice is to take at least a twelve-hour break between jam sessions. Follow this approach for a week or two and thank us later.
Blister Prevention Tip 2 – Cool your fingers
The pain in your fingertips is caused by the strings cutting into your skin. It takes a while for your body to strengthen that part of your fingers with callus. You can speed up the process by cooling your hands after playing.
After jamming for fifteen minutes, turn on the cold tap. Keep your fingers under the pouring water for a minute. You’ll notice the improvement right away. The burning sensation will fade, or perhaps even disappear.
Blister Prevention Tip 3 – Reduce the action of your guitar
The action of your guitar is the distance between the strings and the neck. The higher the action, the harder you have to press to get a clean sound. That, of course, is painful for your fingertips. This is why it is wise to lower the action on your axe. Here are two ways how to do this.
By tuning your strings down a semitone, you’ll reduce the tension on the strings. Less tension equals less pain. A semitone down means that your E-strings, both high and low, are tuned in Dis. The A becomes a Gis, the D changes into a Cis, the G becomes a Fis and the B becomes an Ais.
The second way you can lower the action is to place a capo on the first fret. This ensures that the strings get closer to the neck. Again, this approach will feel much better for your fingers while playing.
Blister Prevention Tip 4 – Clip your nails
More calluses on your fingertips is equivalent to less pain during jamming. You can accelerate the formation of calluses by using a larger area of your skin when playing the guitar.
Clipping your nails is a good way to do this. Less nail is more skin surface. Try it out, but do not clip your nails too close to the skin. That can be painful and counter-productive.
Blister Prevention Tip 5 – Select the right strings
Depending on the type of guitar, you can choose to use less ‘painful’ strings. The least hurtful strings are those used on a Spanish guitar (also called a classical guitar).The G-string, B-string and high E-string are made from nylon. This makes them a lot less painful than their steel counterparts, that you’ll commonly find on a Western guitar.
If you play electric or Western guitar, you have a choice: light, medium or heavy strings. Light strings are thinner and require less force when playing. And less force means… yup, less pain.
No pain no gain
Follow the tips above and you’ll see that progress comes faster than you think. The process ain’t painless, but on the other hand the motto is: no pain no gain! Therefore, keep practicing and keep striking them chords. It will get easier and more fun with every session. Happy jamming!
This article is about the basic theory of chords and how to read chord charts.
So let’s talk about chords. A chord is a combination of notes forming a magical harmony, which lies at the basis of Western popular music. Ever asked yourself why we call an E-major an E-major, or why the note B is so important? Maybe it sounds a lot like difficult mumbo jumbo at the moment, but believe me, at the end of this article you’ll be going: well, is that all there is to it?!
Basic chord build up
Before we get started, go and grab your guitar. It’s going to make things a lot easier to explain and you’ll learn faster, if you put theory straight into practice. But if you’re reading this during working hours with no axe in sight, no worries. Just try to picture the guitar neck in your hand and you’ll be fine. All set? Let’s get this party started.
All good things come in threes, or so they say. This definitely applies to the theory of chords. The most frequently encountered chords are triads, so called because they consist of three distinct notes: the root note, and intervals of a third and a fifth above the root note.
Changing major into minor
Let’s start with that E-chord we mentioned earlier. Does our E have an uplifting vibe or does it sound a bit down; major or minor? That’s all up to the moody third. To help yourself understand this better, grab your guitar and position your fingers on the open E-major chord as shown on the chord chart below. Give it a ring. Oh yeah, that’s an E-major alright.
If correctly positioned, the lower E-string is open, this is your root note. Your middle finger is on the second fret of the A-string, right next to the ring finger on D. Your index is holding down the G-string on the first fret. Now that’s the moody third.
The moody third
Why do we call it moody? Release the G-string with your index finger. Now that’s a G-note. Give the whole chord a firm strike. Sounds a bit down, doesn’t it? You just changed your E-major to an E-minor by switching between thirds. Feeling a bit confused? Don’t worry. For now it’s important to remember that the difference between a major chord and a minor chord is just one fret away. Or better put: one blue note.
So, why do we call a third a third? Good question. Here’s an extremely simplified answer. Forget the guitar for a minute and picture a piano keyboard instead. The octave, or the distance from one E to the other, is exactly eight whole notes; eight white keys. If the root note E is our first key, then the second is an F followed by the third, a G.
If you want to sharpen that G hit the adjacent black key. Unlike the white ones, a black key is half-tone. There are no black keys on the guitar neck, that’s why you switched from major third to minor third by going up or down a fret. Similar to what you would do on a piano keyboard. Makes sense, right?
To add a little bit more body to our E-chord we use the octave. As explained above, this is the same note played eight tones higher or lower. In this case your ring finger is holding down a higher E. If your guitar is tuned in E, striking the chord will sound very powerful. You’re hearing three different octaves: the open lower and open upper E-string, plus the E-note under your ring finger.
The fifth is your muscle
So let’s talk about that middle finger holding down the B-note on the second fret of the A-string. This is what we call the fifth. The root note combined with the fifth creates a solid sound. Adding a fifth is like adding some muscle to the chord. The combination of these two notes is also known as the power chord.
In short: a basic chord consists of a root note, an octave, a third and a fifth. That’s all there is to it. And here comes the fun part: you can apply these rules for any chord. Let’s put this knowledge into practice. Move your E-major one note up, which is one fret down the guitar neck. Your fingers are still in the same position, placed on different frets. Check out the chord chart below.
Going down the guitar neck
Yes, this is an F-major. Because you moved up a note all the strings open in E-major are now covered by your index finger. Remember, that’s one key on the piano keyboard and one fret on your guitar neck. If you move this position one fret down the guitar neck and strike the strings, the chord you’re hearing is a sharp F-major. Another fret down you’ll hear a G-major. And so on.
Every time you release your middle finger (a.k.a. the moody third) you change the chord into a minor. It’s as easy as that. The only thing you have to do is practice your grip. Yeah, I know, it hurts like hell. For now. But if you go down that guitar neck in this position once a day, by the end of the week your fingers will get used to it.