Tablature Explained

One thing that people have asked me for years is if I can read sheet music. The answer is barely. I can read the basic of sheet music that you would see in old church hymns or something in that nature. What I can read though, are guitar tabs. Guitar tablature is kind of an easier version of sheet music. If you can read guitar tab, then you can play just about anything. So for this week, I will be teaching you guys how to read it.

I found this neat little diagram online. I will explain it one step at a time.108-TAB-example  To begin, the 6 lines that stretch across the page represent your strings. The thickest string, which is at the bottom, is your low E string. Then A, D, G, B, and your thinnest string at the top is you high e string. It is almost like taking the guitar neck, and pointing it up towards you and looking down on it. This is what it would look like.

From there you will see multiple numbers across the tab. Each number represents the fret on the guitar that you will play. So whatever number lands on which ever string, that is what you play. If the string has a “0” then you play the string open. If the numbers are aligned along different strings at the same time, then you play all of those notes at once. You would most likely see that in chords and power notes.

The final step is to read each numbers from left to right. Some tab charts have the actual time signature to give you a beat, but in reality, if you know the song, you really don’t need this.

The awesome thing about guitar tabs is that they are world known. There are tons of websites that have guitar tabs on about any song that you can think of. My personal favorite is If you have the chance, you should check it out sometime. They have some very accurate tabs, and it is where I got started at. They also have a mobile app as well.

I feel like, as a guitarist, it is essential for all beginners to learn this. If it wasn’t for tabs, I would have never got to where I am! I hope this weeks post advances your skills as a guitarist, and I hope you find the information useful in your journey to be an awesome musician!


Protect Your Hands

I was sitting down in my room earlier this week playing my Taylor acoustic and I had sort of a flashback to when I was younger. I remember the very first day I started playing guitar, I had played so much, that one of my fingers started bleeding. I remember putting band-aids on and continue to push through just so I could play those two simple chords my guitar teacher recently had taught me. Today, I have built calluses and could play for hours on end without my fingers hurting. I also had another memory of when I broke my arm and almost lost feeling in a few of my fingers on my left hand. That is the end I use to form chords and notes. All of these memories led to me thinking on how valuable my fingers and hands are. So this week, will be sort of different from my usual posts. I will give you some tips on how to protect the most valuable asset that a guitar player has.

Take Breaks

I cant stress this enough. If you intend to learn to play guitar, you’re already learning, or an experienced guitarist, make sure you take a break in between sessions. I know sometimes you can get lost in the music, but don’t put more wear’n’tear on your hands and fingers.

Strengthen the Muscles in Your Hands

It may sound crazy, but honestly, strengthen the muscles in your hands. It will make your hands faster, stronger, and eventually you will not have as many problems actually playing the guitar. They actually make devices to exercise your hand muscles.

Have good “Hand Posture”

There is a special way with your hands to make chords, play notes, and overall, play the guitar. Always keep your fingers arched when you are playing chords, and make sure your arm is relaxed and not so tensed when playing. This goes for your strumming hand, and playing hand.

When it Hurts, Stop For a While

This goes with taking a break. Don’t be stupid like me and play till your fingers bleed. You could cause some serious problems, or leave scars that could hurt your fingers in the long run

Protect Your Hands Outside of Playing

Taking care of your hands while you are on the job, playing sports, or just out and about, is super important if you intend to play guitar. The rhythm guitarist in my band worked at Bob Evans and was cutting turkey one day. He wasn’t wearing the appropriate gloves and basically sliced all but a little bit of his thumb off. Luckily, the doctor was able to sow it back on. I had a long talk, well basically just yelled at him calling him any idiot, about how he needs to protect his hands! One wrong move and your days of playing could be over.

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I am not trying to be your “Guitar Mom,” but I have witness a lot of bad things that have happened to guitarist that cut their passion short. So please, do not take your hands for granted. They are a gift, and should be taken care of properly.

Time for a Solo…Maybe

Last week I started a two part series on how you should try to play with a band. Well, according to me that is. So, we will hit the 2nd part to that series and I will go over my advice on how, as a guitarist, you should try to play in a band. Once again, I am not a professional, I just like to give tips and advice on how I think you should try to play with your band.

The first question you must ask yourself is, what type of guitarist am I? Am I the one who loves solos? Maybe I just like to lay low and jam out with some power chords. Whether you are wanting to be the spotlight, or just there to jam, picking your role and “on-stage persona” is super important to being a great guitarist. Me personally, I am in the middle. I love to rip into some solos and play some crazy lead parts, but at the same time, I like to stay humble and try not to take away from our bands message. That leads to the next topic. Your bands style, genre, and lead instruments. After you determine what type of guitarist you will be, or maybe you are having trouble deciding, you should figure out what your role will be with your band, and where they want you to be. Sometimes you have to share the stage with another guitarist, so do you both want to share the lead? Or does he want to be the main solo driven guy? It just takes communication.

Now that you have decided your personal, and band role, its time to critique your playing style. I will discuss how I am used in my band, and how I have to critique myself. This will give you a better understanding. Being in a Christian Rock/Worship band, I have to change my style up. For our harder songs, I am crunching out some hard chords to give our mix a full rock driven sound. I can’t be doing a crazy solo for 3 minutes. The worship style can be a little bit more challenging. I have to player high lead parts while at the same time being able to switch back to simple chords to give the song the most dynamic mix it can have. This involves lots of communication with my drummer. Which I will note, being on your drummers good side is a very important thing. Our drummer knows when to build, and I have to be ready to follow that as a guitarist. One tip that I have, is to never let your music die in the middle of a performance. What I mean is that you have to keep the flow going as a lead guitarist, even if there is a quite moment in the song.

This is just a small portion of some of the tips I have for playing in a band. The topic is extremely broad, and you could almost write a book about all the different things you can do to improve yourself as a guitarist in a band. My best advice to you is to always be looking to move forward and not back. Learn new tricks, and implement them to your guitar. Communicate with your band mates and always focus on being the best you can be.

Lights, Drums, Vocals, Piano, Bass, Guitars, Action!

I can bet at least one time in your life that you have been to a live concert before. Whether you have seen your favorite band, or that beloved solo artist, you have seen some type of show. Me personally, I have been to so many concerts that I honestly can’t keep count. Being a musician who plays in a band, I love to watch other bands and learn how they put on the best show possible. So, this week I want to talk about what it is like being in a band, and what a band, music wise, is actually made up of. This will be a 2 part series, so next week I will talk about how, as a guitarist, you should try to play in a band.

A band can have so many combinations of instruments to create their unique sound. I have seen 2 piece bands, 3, 4, 5, even 12 piece bands (one piece in a band equals one musician,) and so on. Despite all the variations, there is still a strict guideline that every band has to follow. They have to be able to produce sounds in the BASS, MID, and TREBLE range, or low, mid, and high. You have probably seen these settings in your car, or on your home stereo. These musical frequencies give a perfect balance and allows live performances to feel like an in studio recording. So, how do you fill those frequencies? There are so many instruments out there that do the job, but we will focus on all the instruments we use in our band.

We have 5 piece band, with 7 instruments, and an automated program to play extra back ground music. Drums lay the foundation, and the rhythm. The bass guitar sets the lows, a piano gives a balanced mix, and can sometimes be the lead instrument for a song. The guitars come into play right before the vocals. In my band, the guitars lead a majority of all songs. The rhythm guitarist plays low-to-mid driving chords to help fill in space, help carry the rhythm with the drums, and make the song more powerful. The lead guitar is usually doing some type of higher end stuff on the guitar to make it stand out and give the song an appealing factor that makes it fun, sound good, and memorable. Below is a pretty neat diagram of a stage layout. This is actually our bands layout and what we send to event coordinators to get a feel of our set. Note, this plot was made before we added a piano, and our device for background music.    ACAO Stage Plot.jpeg.jpg.jpg.jpg.jpg

Like stated before, this is my bands layout, and how we like to do things. I am no expert, but I have been doing this for many years and feel like my knowledge in putting together a band is very good. I believe our band sounds great because everything is so balanced. As long as you have that balance in a band, than you will sound great! Now, this does not count if you are not a good musician, but that is a different story song.

Check back next week for part 2 of this series!

Write On

This week will seem a little different than the past couple of weeks. I am going to stray away from talking about guitars a little bit and actually talk about one of my favorite topics; writing music. I will still include all of the different methods I use to write music and how I mix them with playing guitar.

To start, you don’t have to be a musician to write music. I know a bunch of poets who allow me to use their stuff and turn it into song. So don’t feel discouraged if you can’t play the piano, guitar or something in that category.

As you know, I am in a band, and I do the majority of the writing for the band. Some of my band mates ask for tips to help them and I tell them not to overthink it. A big problem people have is that they are too nervous or worried about what people will think, so they never get out what they want to say. Writing music is a way to be real with yourself. I tell them whatever is on their heart, or whatever they may be going through, write it down. Sad, happy, excited, hurt, any type of emotion can produce something. Some more tips I give them is any time they get inspiration, write it down or record it. Do whatever you have to do to remember it. Trust me, if you say that you will remember it five hours from now….you wont. My iPhone has about 70 plus voice memos of me just singing random words so I will remember it when I get home or get to my guitar.

Writing music doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be sloppy and may not make sense, but for me, I have to try to make it make sense in the best way I can. We have a lot of followers in our band that love our music, and love our style. So, I try to make sure I stick to that when I write. It is very important that each song is appealing, powerful, and not generic. Below is a picture of a small writing session I had in my room.FullSizeRender

Now a big question that a lot of young musicians have is whether you should start with lyrics or a melody first. To be honest, it could be either. Sometimes I am playing a few chords and start to hum a chorus or verse. Then boom, in an hour I have a new song. And then it could be totally vice versa.

I am no expert when it comes to writing music. Sometimes I write some really terrible songs, but sometimes I come out with some great stuff. This topic is so broad and there are so many things you could add to help young writers, but I just wanted to cover a few different things that I do that helps me write. Maybe it will help you! Don’t ever stop expressing yourself or let someone tell you that your music sucks, cause at the end of the day, it’s yours, and no one can take that away from you. So, write on.

Simplicity is Key

I have been having a lot of fun here lately with the technical side of guitar. I hope that some of you have found some of my blogs interesting and insightful to your personal guitar experience.

Recently, I read an article on Guitar World about lots of classic rock guitarist from the 80’s and the simple styles they use to make musical masterpieces. It talked about how guitarist like Angus Young (AC/DC), Jimmy Paige (Led Zepplin), and Brian May (Queen) all had unique styles all while playing simple chords. It really made me think about how simple those chords are, but how powerful and how they stick in our heads like nothing else. I mean you can hear some of their guitar riffs and automatically know what the song is by that. And so, as a musician who writes a lot, I took this to heart more then I have before. Simple is better.

My advice for new guitarist trying their hardest to play that crazy five minute solo, or that advance guitarist who is trying to write the most creative riff you have ever heard, slow down. Seriously, slow down and follow the basics. I would rather listen to something memorable, than something cliche that I have heard from most guitarist. That being said, I am guilty of this and beat myself when learning new stuff.

One more thing. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling, but you will never be those guitarist. No they are not Gods that cannot be touched, but just guitarist that have their own way and style of doing things. So make it your own and be something different.

I will attach the link for anyone who wants to read this very informative article. There are some guitar tabs, and a video that shows you how to play some of those amazing riffs.



The Beautiful Sound

Last week we went over the basics of electric guitar, and, as promised, we will hit the acoustic side this week. There are so many things I could say about the acoustic guitar, but I can begin with my first acoustic as a starting point.

I’ll never forget my guitar teacher and my mom taking me to a guitar shop when I was 9 and bought me my first acoustic guitar. It was a Johnson guitar, which are really good starter guitars. It’s so funny because I hated that guitar. The strings sat so far off of the guitar and it would destroy my fingers when I was learning, but it was all worth it in the end. I wanted an electric guitar when I first started, but my teacher insisted that I continue with the acoustic until I was ready. I think this time period of being forced to love the acoustic guitar, actually made me love it genuinely. Fast forward to 2013, I was able to purchase my own acoustic. A good one to be exact. I bought a Taylor 114CE Acoustic Electric for $900, and I still play it to this day. In the acoustic world of guitar there are hundreds of brands just like electric, but some of the top dogs that stick out are Martin, Taylor, Takamine, Fender, and Gibson guitars. All of these are top notch, and rather expensive, but too a musician, they are well worth it. I prefer Taylor and Martin guitars over anything else, but that is my opinion. The others are still extremely popular.

The uniqueness of acoustics are that they provide freedom. You don’t have any chords attaching you to an amp. So, you can literally take it anywhere. There is also a special tone that comes from an acoustic. One you can’t replicate with an electric. It’s this tone that allows for more freedom. You can get a sincere, chill vibe from certain chords or notes played on an acoustic. It is almost euphoric.There also so many different styles that provide different sounds. Some of which are the use of a pick or finger picking. It can become very diverse.

I guess I can say that every guitarist should purchase an acoustic. And if you are new…start out with an acoustic, not electric. It will set a foundation that will allow you to better yourself, while at the same time, provide you with a musical freedom, and a beautiful sound.images-13