posted by dave on Sunday, December 30, 2007 at 12:03 PM in category guitarded

I didn't write about this before, mainly because I feared that the mounds of colorful panties thrown into my yard by passing groupies would detract from my neighbors' fancy Christmas displays, but I have an electric guitar now.

I've actually had it for over a month. Back before I went to Las Vegas, I went to a music store. I needed to buy a new beginner's book. So, of course, I walked out of that store with a new beginner's book, a new guitar, amp, cord, gig bag, stand, strap, tuner thingy, and a bunch of picks. Good thing the place didn't have a tattoo artist on-staff, or I'd probably have gotten one of those, too. Maybe a demon wailing away on a flaming guitar, or something like that.

Anyway, I bought all this stuff, and right from the start I could tell that something was horribly wrong. The amp would constantly emit a loud buzz - so loud that it would drown out most notes. Every note on the guitar also tended to sound exactly the same, because of having to merge with that damn buzzing.

So I've been nagging my friend MusicalYuppieDude to check out my stuff and see if he can figure out what the problem is. Because he's been busy, raking up panties from his own groupies no doubt, we didn't get together until yesterday afternoon.

I packed up my guitar and my amp and went over to his house. I successfully negotiated the Stairs Of Death and made it into his basement.

The first thing he tried was his own fancy "V" guitar plugged into my el-cheapo amplifier. Everything sounded great. There was no buzzing, just sweet music.

Next, he plugged my guitar into my amp. Same thing, no buzzing. He said it sounded good, and I believed him. I was right there, after all.

The only thing left to try was my cord, so we tried that. Still, no buzzing. Still, just sweet music.

By this time a new theory had started to develop in my head. The new theory being that the buzzing might be caused by the electricity in my house.

So we dicked around for a few more minutes, while I marveled that my guitar and amp were capable of producing distinctly different sounds, depending on which strings I strummed and which chords I formed, and then I brought all of my shit back home. I was excited by the chance to finally be a rock god.

My amp had only been plugged into two different outlets. One in my basement and one in my living room. I started trying different outlets.

One on the other side of the living room? The buzz was there.

One in my office? Buzzzzzz.

My bedroom? Buzzzzz.

I took everything down to my basement, and tried an outlet on the opposite side of the house from where I'd tried before.

No buzz. Just a very slight hum, hinting at the awesome rock fury straining to be unleashed.


So now I have an electric guitar and amp that are actually useful to me, instead of just looking cool. I've only got a few little things to work on:

1. I cannot pick.
2. I cannot strum.
3. I cannot change chords.
4. I cannot count to four.

And then, then once I get those trivial problems solved, I need to figure out what's the deal with notes.

I don't understand how there can be two strings on the guitar that allegedly play an E note. They don't sound even remotely similar to me. One is low, and one is high. But people tell me that they're the same note. I don't understand, and I fear that the rain of panties will never happen until I do understand.

comments (3)

I'm unable to sleep so I thought I'd annoy you with some advice.

#1. It's better to use your fingers at first rather than a pick. That way you can feel where your hand needs to be. A fun exercise is to say a sentence out loud, then try to replicate the series of tones you said on the instrument.

#2. Learning strumming is easier if you hum what you want to play while you play it at first. Old bluesmen tap their foot to keep time, strumming down when the foot goes down and if they want, strum up when the foot comes up. Personally, I get all confused trying to tap my foot.

#3. Muscle memory exercises. You form a chord even with the help of the other hand in placing fingers (because it'll be a stretch in the beginning) but then you lift you fingers off the fretboard, wriggle them, then make the chord again until it becomes automatic. You slowly do that with all basic chords then do that between switching chords. Slowly first, then faster. Basically, by doing so you are building Muscle Memory.

#4. I hate counting to play as it's too mechanical and I'll start doing equations and forget I'm supposed to be playing. I either hum the tune in my head or keep time with my body. I tend to keep time with my head by shaking it in rhythm.

As for the notes, most people know that on a piano all the notes are perfectly in order along one straight line that is the keyboard. On a guitar, you have the equivalent of six keyboards each starting at a different note. You can figure out what any note on the guitar is by memorizing two rules.

First, assuming you've tuned your guitar to standard E, the string names are from the lowest pitched string to the highest: E,A,D,G,B,E.

Second, in the western world there is a sharp/flat between most notes but there is no note between B and C, and E and F.

Knowing this, you can name every note on the string. Consider the A string (second string from the top). The notes are open (not holding down a note)=A. Then by fret it's A sharp, B, C, C sharp, D, D sharp, E, F, F sharp, G, G sharp, then A again (the octave which is at the 12th fret).

The D that is at the fifth fret on the A string is the exact same D that is the open D string and not a higher D. So if you want to play that D, you have options as to which one you want. Trust me, if you continue to play some day you will want to play a D note especially if you are playing with other people and need to either solo over someone else or support a solo.

I think I'll leave it at that. With exposure you'll get used to the intricate sounds and begin to recognize them not only but how they sound, but also by where they are and how it's vibration feels in your hand.

All very good advice and should help you. Now, hit that f'er like it owes you money!

favorited this one, dude

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