"Looking At Your Sound, The Other Way Around..."

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Jordan Warford here, Editorial Manager for Guitar Tips.

Welcome to our Guitar Tips newsletter and thank you for tuning in. We have an awesome article for you that's going to blow your mind and challenge you to reach new heights with your guitar. We encourage you to try new things that you may have never thought of before!

In this edition:

Have you ever felt like you've been playing in a box and you keep getting that same old sound that everyone else already seems to have? Today is the day that you can change the way you think about playing your guitar for the rest of your life as we take a look at altered tunings.

Who ever said that we had to play in the same tuning for the rest of our lives? The fact of the matter is that altered tunings can give you a tone that's simply unmatched by standard tuning and virtually impossible to achieve if you don't use those altered tunings.

We're going to show you how altered tunings work, why they are so effective, how you can tune to them using your standard tuning, and what you can play using them! That's enough information to keep you going for a year!

If you like to hear about new gear, check out our latest installment of our Severe Gear Premiere. We'll walk you through some of the most innovative technologies around, matched with a price that won't totally kill your pocket book.

Check out the winner of our latest contest and hear what he had to say about the whole experience of winning a signed guitar by one of the world's finest.

Our Feedback Booth is taking a break and will return in two weeks. Please continue to send your thoughts and suggestions as we hear you loud and clear! Plus, if you don't send us anything, how can I write a section about it? I also encourage you to post your recordings on our Guitar Forum, you never know where you might find them published around here.

With all of that in mind, let's get down to business.

Tunings That Keep You Swooning...

Why new tunings are cool.

Over the last few months, I have talked a lot about getting yourself out of the trap that many guitarists typically fall into at one time or another. The solution to pulling yourself out of that ditch varies from person to person but for me, altered tunings have helped me grow as a musician.

Believe it or not, even the editor of a guitar site can get into the same monotonous groove over and over again. Recently, I started playing in other tunings other than standard. As a classically trained guitarist, I was very much bent on standard tuning because theoretically, everything you need to get the sounds you want is there.

However, what I have learned in recent months is that it's not necessarily what you can do with standard tuning, rather, what tones and chords you can't get by using it all of the time. Alternative tunings offer a new, and often easier method of playing chords and a very rich tone that is unmatched.

I mention chords for an important reason. You may have noticed that the guitar isn't laid out in a fashion that allows for easy access to every single chord combination. According to theory we can achieve incredible sounding chords but the problem is having the technique to stretch that far. Some of those chords are often impossible for any of us to play. Tuning your guitar to different tones bridges that gap between theory and technique, allowing us to play new chords.

Altered tunings involve playing around with the notes that your guitar is currently tuned to. For example, standard tuning is what you're probably tuned to at the moment and your six strings from top to bottom are tuned to the notes E, B, G, D, A, E. An altered tuning will use different notes in our musical vocabulary and replace the notes in standard tuning.

There's really an unlimited array of alternate tunings to choose from because you can tune your strings to form any chord you wish. For example, tuning in open g will allow you to play a G chord simply by strumming your strings without any fret work!

You could do this with many other chords to get a lot of new sounds. These sounds form the building block for new music to be formed and is a lot of fun to explore with. Later in this lesson, we'll play around with new ideas evolving around using chords as your open tuning.

How you can achieve them without a tuner.

One of the many reasons why people choose not to tune their guitar using alternate tunings is simply due to the fact that they don't know how to tune their guitar to those notes. If you have a tuner that simply is made for standard tuning, you'll find that it's very inaccurate to use. You'll want a chromatic tuner for any alternate tunings you may wish to use. However, a much easier method is learned by the notes on your guitar neck.

We're not going to cover how to learn all of these notes on your guitar neck in this lesson as we will be covering it in a few weeks. However, there are some basic locations on the fretboard that you should learn now for reference.

I personally like to refer to the above circled notes as "CT" notes which is an acronym for core tuning notes. Once you are familiar with these particular notes, you can use them to insure that you are tuning to the right pitch and the correct tuning. Please make sure that your guitar is tuned to proper standard tuning before beginning or the new notes that you tune to will be out of tune.

In this hypothetical situation, we can only assume that we knew how to tune to standard and didn't have a chromatic tuner to check to see if it was in tune. That's why you need to be able to trust that your strings are in tune.

Now, if you're one of the many who has a chromatic tuner then I advise using it in most situations for accuracy. Also, it does help keep many peoples' tempers down.

So you're all dressed up with nothing to play.

Nothing breaks me up more than seeing a guitarist who has just discovered a new way of playing guitar but has no clue as to the location of the new chords or what tunings are available to them. Let's run through the different tunings and how to tune your guitar to them. Sound bites are included for reference so you will know if you're in tune.

Drop D: Drop D tuning is a very easy tuning to achieve. Simply place your finger on the fifth fret of the A string and tune your low E down one tone to match the D. This tuning is popular if you're planning on playing a lot of d chords, or in the key of d. I can't say enough about how beautiful this voicing is for any piece of music written in D, and the tone is superior. The order of notes from highest to lowest are as follows:

E (Standard)

B (Standard)

G (Standard)

D (Standard)'

A (Standard)

D (Down one tone)

DADGAD Tuning: This tuning isn't as popular as drop D but has a kick of it's own. The history can be traced to the 60's and was born out of folk music. Great for melodic work and fun to play around with. This tuning is yet another personal favorite that I highly reccomend trying. The tuning, in order from highest to lowest is as follows:

D (Down one tone)

A (Down one tone)

G (Standard)

D (Standard)

A (Standard)

D (Down one tone)

Open G Tuning: Now we're moving into open chord tunings. When you strum your strings without fretting a single note, a G chord will be heard. Lots of fun to mess around with and come up with new voicings and leads. If you like barre chords, open G makes them easier and allows you to play chords that were once impossible (more on that in a bit). The tuning, in order from highest to lowest is as follows:

D (Down one tone)

B (Standard)

G (Standard)

D (Standard)

G (Down one tone)

D (Down one tone)

Open E Tuning: Not unlike the open G tuning, you can also use this tuning for the same purpose. Be careful when tuning up, strings break easy sometimes and if one snaps under the pressure, you need to make sure your hand is ready to move because it stings. Usually this won't happen but being prepared never hurt anyone. The tuning, in order from highest to lowest is as follows:

E (Standard)

B (Standard)

G# (Up one semi-tone)

E (up one tone)

B (Up one tone)

E (Standard)

With the above tunings, you can create a solid foundation that eliminates the excuse, "I feel like I'm stuck in a box." There's a world of alternatives for you out there and this is one way to jump start your playing skills and have fun while doing so. You may have also noticed that this is a great example of composition and transposition, the two things we have been taking a look at over the last month.

When you try the above tunings and find your bearings (meaning finding familiar major and minor chords) you will absolutely love using alternate tunings. They add that special touch which truly adds to your music and inspires your audience.

Personally, I love playing in drop D and DADGAD tuning. The heritage of the DADGAD tuning may be rooted in folk but the rock tunes I've composed from it make that part of its history a little hard to believe. Take some time and try them out. Be patient when tuning, it will be well worth the extra five minutes it may take you!

Putting It All Together

Now that we have some awesome tunings to work with, having some familiar chords would be a great place to start. We're going to take two tunings, Drop D and DADGAD and locate some chords like D Major, G Major, and A Major and work out some new music. First things first... the chords.

Listed below are the most common chords for Drop D:


...Now you may be checking out those A and C chords thinking, "How on earth do I finger this?" The answer is quite simple, you don't! This is where you take your thumb from it's proper position, wrap it around the neck of your guitar and clasp onto the E string. It takes a little getting used to but it's fun once you get into the swing of things.

The rest of the fingerings are standard and are played just like you usually would. Do whatever is the most comfortable for you. I like to use fingerings as a guide but they don't always work depending on the chord you may be switching to so analyze the situation and go from there.

Now we'll show you three major chords that can be found in DADGAD tuning:

Here's a cool riff I've written for you in drop D, hope you enjoy!

Here's some quick advice on playing in DADGAD:

Severe Gear Premiere

One of the greatest things about being a guitarist besides awesome music and good times is getting to try out all of the coolest gear around. We've teamed up with Guitar Trader to inform you of the latest and greatest affordable gear on the market today.

Our focus this month isn't going to be totally on the new, rather a mix of the classic tones and the affordable price. We don't want to show you gear that only the minority can buy, we want you to have the best bang for your buck and that's exactly what we're going to do in this article.

 

FENDER DG-22CE Acoustic/Electric

A nice sounding, quality acoustic electric guitar is hard to find at a reasonably low price. Fender has come out with a great instrument and Guitar Trader has the best price so let's start off with what makes this guitar such a nice catch.

Usually I won't go to Fender for my first choice in acoustic instruments, however, I had one experience that completely changed my view on how Fender makes some of its products. I found this Fender acoustic one day at my local music store that had $300 written on the tag and I thought I would try it out as I was looking into buying one for my friend.

I was pleasantly surprised with its tone. It had a nice bottom end and was well setup and fun to play. I have not had the chance to personally play the DG-22CE, but I can tell you that this guitar is made of the right stuff. Fishmen pickups are some of the best on the market and will offer you something that you can grow into. Unfortunately the top is laminated, which bothers me but I can compromise due to the fact that it's a cutaway.

At this price, you could get a better guitar for a beginner looking to grow into a new instrument or for the intermediate guitarists who wants the best bang for their buck.

I admit that it won't be for everyone, but no guitar is. Go try it out for yourself and be your own judge!

Click here to check it out.

DEAN Stylist Standard Trans Brazilia

 

One word for this beauty... Wow! I was taken back by this guitar's looks, style and what it has to offer. Not only is it made to look like a million dollars, it's made to have the tone of one too! There aren't many styles of guitars that I like better than hollow bodies. They are made to sound deep with a touch of attitude that really allows you to run the show and get the sounds you want.

I have heard hollow body guitars play everything from beautiful jazz to soulful blues and hard core rock. The possibilities are endless. This guitar has a tune-o-matic bridge, mahogany body and Grover tuners. This guitar is a must have to anyone who is looking for a new guitar to get off their feet with or to have as a backup.

It's a great guitar for all skill levels as pickups can easily be changed to suit personal tastes and styles. With a price like this, this can be made possible without breaking your wallet. I have heard a good product rating from Dean and believe it is a name that can be trusted.

A guitar doesn't always have to be made by Fender or Gibson to be considered a great sounding guitar. Go with what you know you like and you'll create better sounding music that reflects who you are.

Click here to check it out.

FENDER G-DEC Guitar Digital Center Amp

Well, I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't mention this little marvel. It has hit the guitar world by storm as one of the best practice amps out there and professionals and beginners alike are loving it. What makes it so unique? Well, it's more of a question of what isn't unique on this puppy.

Feel like you want to play with a full band before going to work? No problem! Simply plug your guitar into this amp and it will provide a full band for you. Perhaps you enjoy country but would like to try out rock... great, just turn a knob and the styles change simultaneously. Fender also thought it would be cool to pack in a tonne of great sounding effects for you to play around with, after all, you don't want to sound bad in front of the band.

Here's a clipping from Guitar Trader on some of the great features:

 

The G-DEC is a 15-Watt combo amplifier with an 8" Special Design speaker. It has the familiar appearance of a Blackface Fender amp with special features added, such as a digital LCD display interface screen. It was designed from the ground up by the same Fender tone-team that brought you everything from the entry-level Front man series to the flagship Cyber-Twin SE. Features:

Easy recall of guitar tones from Heavy Metal to Jazz to Punk to Country-- at the twist of a knob! o Drum beats, Bass lines, and other instruments provide musical backing in any style and tempo

Internal synthesizer with MIDI interface allows playing with MIDI song files via computer- play all the backing tracks through the G-DEC! Every instrument from Piano to Percussion is in there! MIDI keyboards can also be hooked up to G-DEC to play the internal sounds.

Special effects like Reverb and Echo plus crazy, creative sound effects!

Easy-to-use automatic guitar tuner

The amp's top provides a flat surface for placing a portable CD or MP3 player; these devices can be hooked up with the G-DEC for "play along" capability

Internal Phrase Sampler can sample the incoming guitar signal to create loops, or song snippets from CD/MP3 may be captured for careful study.

Shoulder strap for easy transport

15 Watts of power with a Special Design 8" speaker

Future software upgrades can be loaded via MIDI

I highly recommend this amp for its workmanship, price and overall "fun factor." I've played with them, read about them and now I want to share what I think of them. With lessons on all kinds of different styles right around the corner, you may want to consider this amp to give you the sounds you want to get the job done.

No, it's not a professional 200W tube amp but it is something that everyone can enjoy and have fun with. Beginners can get used to playing to a beat and get an idea of the effects they want to use while advanced players can let loose and have a great practice session.

Click here to check it out, you won't regret it!

Winner Of Our Satriani Givaway

"You live today, to see tomorrow" -Ian Stenseng

Contrary to many of your suspicions, we didn't forget about picking a winner for our Satriani Giveaway. Guitar Trader and Guitar Tips teamed up to randomly draw a winner from thousands of entries. Thankfully, we didn't have to search long before Ian Stenseng of Miles City, Montana was drawn from the top ten finalists.

Ian is 19 years old and already has a Fender guitar and was more than happy to find out that he would be adding an Ibanez to his collection.

"I've always felt that I wouldn't win anything except for a coloring contest for Albertsons when I was a kid, and I was looking at www.GuitarTrader.com, and just happened to see this contest on a Joe Satriani signed guitar. Well, I thought to myself, What's it going to hurt? Besides, I really like his guitar work. Well, here I am, and I feel great about it. I just hope one day I'll be able to meet Joe in person to tell him how great he is. Thanks Guitar Trader."

Everyone here at Guitar Tips sends their best and wishes you all the best in the future, Ian!

Site Review

Guitar Vision

You may have noticed that there's no shortage of guitar sites available on the web who are more than willing to teach you guitar. The unfortunate part is that many charge annual membership renewals and some sites just overcharge you to begin with. Guitar Vision developed a program that is unlike any other on the web and it's not only affordable but it's also effective.

Guitar Vision uses a brand new software technology that shows you your fretboard in 3D and essentially tells you where to place your fingers, what picking patterns to use and gives chord diagrams according to the transitions in the songs. I must say, I have never seen anything like this in my entire career of teaching guitar!

The software needed to show you the guitar in 3D and play the songs is absolutely free! All you need to do is buy the songs that you want to learn to play and the player will log them and play them for you. The pay as you go feature is extremely cost effective and you get exactly what you want when you want it.

Guitar Vision has approval from publishers to teach note for note or easy versions of songs by more than 130 artists, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Ozzy Osbourne, and many more. This is invaluable for those of us who need more than tabs to understand how to play the song. I relate it to having a virtual guitarist sitting in front of you plucking away at the guitar so you can learn every detail.

You can slow down the tempo, go note for note around the fretboard or see it all in it's full glory at blistering fast speeds. It's up to you and your skill level. Any guitarist can benefit from this site and after some navigation and experimentation you can be up and running and playing along to your favorite hits in under an hour.

If you've had a song that you've been trying to figure out but just couldn't quite get it, this may be the answer you have been looking for. Guitar Visions library is extensive and offers some rare songs that many other sites just don't have. With Guitar Vision you get safe, hassle free transactions and the songs played right in front of your eyes.

They also have a great contest offer that you might want to check out. You could win just by checking out the software for free.

Click here to see what they can do for you.

Conclusion

We hope that you've enjoyed this edition of our Guitar Tips newsletter. Everyday there is a new world to discover in the realm of music, which is partially what makes being a guitarist so much fun. You have many options to expand your knowledge and skill sets, so being stuck in a box is no longer an option.

Alternate tunings require a new kind of patience and a better ear. Whether you realize it or not, you're making connections between different areas of music from theory to technique. Experimentation is key when dealing with a new concept. Please post some of your creations online at our Guitar Forum. We want to see what you guys are coming up with.

Over the coming weeks, we will be taking a look at different genres of music and how to go about playing them. We'll cover everything from rock to country in anticipation that we have stars out there waiting to be discovered. Learning a new style of music is challenging as well as rewarding, which is why it's so important to try some of them out!

We always love to hear your feedback and thoughts on our newsletter. I'm now set up to answer emails more promptly and provide a better service to you. If you don't receive a quick response, email me again as your email may not have gone through.

Our congratulations goes out once again to Ian Stenseng and thanks to all who participated. You can look forward to more giveaways in the not so distant future.

Until next time, keep on picking!

 


WRITTEN BY GUITAR TIPS
If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want! Visit http://www.guitartips.com.au