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Guitar Help for Common Issues (Page 5)

View our archives of member questions. Before our introduction of Live Courses, we would field questions from our members are record video responses from our pool of teachers. This is the result! Please be aware, some of the video quality in these questions is quite poor, but the knowledge is still valuable.

Super light strings

Avalvira asks, "I restrung my guitar for the very first time and used Martin "super light" gauge strings. I noticed that the 6th (E) string resonates so much that if I pluck it too hard, it hits the fret board. Does this have to do with the gauge? The action on my guitar is low (the way I like it), should I be using thicker gauge string? This only happens with the 6th string. Thanks. Aileen A.V. ALVIRA"

Recyling Old Guitar Strings

Barndad24 asks, "Sence I've been playing guitar I've changed a lot of string and I always feel guilty throwing the old string out. I was wondering if anybody had any ideas on how to reuse or recycle old guitar string. Do string manufactures offer any recycling programs for old string. Throwing it out seems like such a waste."

Going Solo

Rohitdixit asks, "Hi Guys, One of the reasons I start to learn to play the guitar is so that I could accompany my own singing and be the coolest dude around :). Would appreciate a lesson on 1) How to figure out the chords of a song 2) When singing and playing, what are the dos and don'ts. What to focus on etc. Thanks much rd"

A shape barre chords

Theedge asked "Hi, I'm having some trouble with the A shape barre chords. My 3rd finger just won't bend enough to let the first string ring. While experimenting alternate methods I discovered that my pinky bends almost to a right angle and used it successfully in place of my 3rd finger. But the problem I have now is that this position is slow to switch to. So my question is : did you, during your experience, see anybody fingering an A shape barre that way successfully ? If the answer is no, do you think that my 3rd finger will become more flexible with time and practice or is that a physical limitation that cannot be perfected ? Thanks a lot."

Muting Sounds

Fire_Heart asked "Hi ! I'm learning lesson 2 of Steve's Bluegrass series, but I can mute sound when I play "chat". Such as : G chat D chat (in G), C chat G chat (in C)."

Thumb Independence

Kenstyle asked "How much is the thumb really independent during fingerstyle and how much of it is super coordination with the right hand? thanks in advance!!! Love the lessons."

nylon string guitar

HGNative says, "hi another question im going to buy a acoustic guitar i love classical guitar sound and i do (try) to play if i was to buy a nylon string guitar can i still play other music on this with out sounding bad like country rock are is this guitar just for classical thank you jamplay PS every time i see classical guitar music being played its on a nylon string guitar"

Shifting Chords

Dsrinath_123 asked "Hi Steve, this is srinath here, enjoying your basic lessons. I have started learning guitar a few months back before joining jamplay, i learned a few chords and while i was doing a chord shifting i used to hit all open strings in the last beat, this is how I learned (I dont want to mention from where i learned). To explain a bit more, let me put this way, I am strumming a 4/4 eight note strum( D U D U D U D U) and two chords Dmajor and Gmajor and when I am going to shift from Dmajor to Gmajor or vice versa, I would hit all open strings at the last note(U) , but in your lesson it seems that we have to shift after the last note, i want to know whether what i am doing now is correct or not, if not please provide me some exercise to correct it. I would be very glad if my question is answered by Steve Eulberg."

Guitar Theory

Brentald asked "Hi Steve, I am greatly enjoying your lessons...have always wanted to learn, and am making progress. I have tried in the past on my own, but I found that all I was doing was learning by rote. Someone would show me exactly what to do, and I could do it... but that was the extent of it...I couldn't improvise or put anything together on my own. I was also a bit impatient and wanted to sound like Eric Clapton after about two weeks!! Well, I know that's not going to happen sooo...I am on lesson five with you and have made great progress, just strumming chords and enjoying moving them around to produce the simple songs we've strummed so far. However, I can't read music, and in the past when chord theory has been explained to me, or I have tried to read about it, I become utterly lost and confused. I really want to do this....I am 50 years old and don't want to get discouraged again by my inability to understand chord theory....I don't consider myself an idiot...(though some may disagree!!)....I make my living flying Captain on a corporate jet....My question is this....does your experience show that things will eventually begin to make sense as I progress? I am doing fine with the physical aspect of learning, however the theory right now is like trying to drink water from a fire hose. Any advice would really be appreciated. I just don't want to get discouraged as I have in the past. I am really enjoying your lessons, and you make learning the playing part of it easy. Thanks a bunch, Brent."

Learning to Read Tabs

Rudydog asked "So I finished phase one @ phase 2. Was great but then I got to phase 3 (learning music). I was so excited but soon found out that its not as easy as phase 1,2. Were do I learn to read tab and when to strum up and down????Did I miss something????"

acoustic electric vs. acoustic

Avalvira asks, "First of all, I'm a beginner. I own a Breedlove Atlas AC25 acoustic steel string guitar. I'm in the market for a nylon string guitar. I was wondering if there was any benefit in getting an electric one. Realistically, I don't plan on plugging it in anytime in the future, but I think the built-in tuner is very convenient. Does it add $$ on the price of the guitar? In other words, would the same guitar be cheaper if it didn't have the built in tuner/equalizer? I hope that question/s made sense. I'd appreciate any insight or advice you may have. By the way, I'm loving the lessons on your sight. Thanks!! Aileen"

barre chords

Crackspackelpop asks, "I've just recently started playing the guitar and find your site very helpful. However, I'm now at the point where I'm starting into barre chords. When I play these types of chords my hand fatigues rather quickly. My question is this: Are there any types of guitar playing exercises that I can do to build up hand strength? Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the excellent work. Ron"

12 string tuning

Xandy66 asks, "I just getting back to playing, it has been a while! How do I tune a 12 string? I saw one video on the site that said to tune 1 step down. DGCFAD not the usual EADGFE. Can I use my Guitar tuner, a Fender AG-6?"

Learning How to Learn

Oldcrow asks, "I noticed two of the instructors, Steve Eulberg and Jim Deeming, both emphasize goal setting and proper practice. I find myself reviewing their lessons looking for tips on how to learn as much as I do the content of the lessons, themselves. I wonder if someone has some feedback on the task of learning how to learn, what skills one has to develop to be a student of guitar. Thanks, Derrick"

thumb pick technique

Greeno asks, "Jim, I've noticed in some of the songs that you play that you use an upstroke with the thumb pick and it gives the riff an additional sense of syncopation. I'm having some problems with that and wonder if you could share any excercises that would improve my ability to do that. Great lessons BTW. Thanks. greeno"

Toe Tapping

Mark0761 asks, "Hi Jim. How are you? Man,you are an amazing guitarist. Yourself and Steve Eulberg are my two favorite teachers. The two of you are who I have decided to learn from. My passion is acoustic, I got no desire to play electric. I'm a beginer and my question is toe tapping. Before I found you on the website I developed a habit of naturally tapping my heel on the floor for some reason it just felt natural. When I came across you, you said tap your toe on the floor, does it matter which one you tap in rythem ? Your heel or your toes?Also, when do you tap you said on the strumming down tap , do you also do this continually throughout a song or only on the downstroke? Thanks and Confused Mark"

acoustic electric vs. acoustic

Avalvira asks, "First of all, I'm a beginner. I own a Breedlove Atlas AC25 acoustic steel string guitar. I'm in the market for a nylon string guitar. I was wondering if there was any benefit in getting an electric one. Realistically, I don't plan on plugging it in anytime in the future, but I think the built-in tuner is very convenient. Does it add $$ on the price of the guitar? In other words, would the same guitar be cheaper if it didn't have the built in tuner/equalizer? I hope that question/s made sense. I'd appreciate any insight or advice you may have. By the way, I'm loving the lessons on your sight. Thanks!! Aileen"

nylon string guitar

HGNative says, "hi another question im going to buy a acoustic guitar i love classical guitar sound and i do (try) to play if i was to buy a nylon string guitar can i still play other music on this with out sounding bad like country rock are is this guitar just for classical thank you jamplay PS every time i see classical guitar music being played its on a nylon string guitar"

Thumb Independence

KenStyle asks, "How much is the thumb really independent during fingerstyle and how much of it is super coordination with the right hand? thanks in advance!!! Love the lessons"

strings

Kenrahn says, "Hi, I'm a beginner so I would like to know what would be the best strings for this type of guitar. It's an Alvarez Model CY135. Thank You for your help."

new used guitar

Dallas says, "Bought a used schecter diamond series elite7 string.had esp ltd and still have. been playing 6months and I'm 48yrs old. Is this a good guitar to practice on or should i get more experience. neck is wider and i have to stretch more on chords plus i have to play up a string. makes me concentrate more.also is the 7th string tuned in B?"

First Guitar

Paigew asks, "I'm buying my first electric guitar and I am stuck.I was thinking about getting a fender strat but I do not know if I am starting out to big.Do you think I should go less or stick with the strat?"

Guitar Action

Jdemail78 asks, "I hear a lot about guitar action but I'm not really sure what is good or bad. I had purchased an acoustic guitar that I believe had very low action (strings were very close to the neck of the guitar) and it was very easy to play but it ended up having some issues with fret buzz and other ringing sounds that I did not like and could not get corrected at the local guitar shop. I've since replaced it with a little bit better guitar and I no longer have any fret buzz nor do I have any ringing sounds but it seems like the action is higher (strings are much higher off the neck of the guitar) and therefore, for me as a beginner, it is harder to play. My question is when it comes to an experienced guitar player (which I am not...yet...) is it good to have a guitar with higher action or lower action? What would one typically prefer? Do really nice expensive guitars come with very low action making them easy to play but don't have any buzzing issues or is it a case where as you get better, higher action is ok because your better at fretting chords and notes? My curiosity with this comes from a hope that the guitar I have now, with it's strings higher off the fret board, will slowly become easier to play as I get better and I'll become ok with the higher action because it does sound better and cleaner than the one I had with the lower action. Also, please correct me if I have the "high action" "low action" descriptions backwards."

whammy bar

Hgnative says, "When i first started playing guitar i took of my whammy bar . i want to use it now and cant seem to get the hang of it well playing any help would be appreciated and whats a dive bomb?"

metal songs

Dennis, you *expletive* rock the house, keep coming up with the hits your an awesome instructor. You and matt are the reasons I got this membership. but anyways I just wanted to request some metal music like "laid to rest" by lamb of god, or some good megadeth songs, and also a killer song would be "lonely day" by system of a down and include the actual solo in it (the solo is why I like the song). Which brings me to a question. Why don't you guys teach the guitar solo's? those are the best parts of the songs and the only solo on this site is parasite by kiss. which is still a good solo but I'd like to learn the solos to paranoid, and the trooper and shit like that. So write me back with some info about the songs I requested and the guitar solo, thanks guys peace.

First Guitar

Paigew asks, "I'm buying my first electric guitar and I am stuck.I was thinking about getting a fender strat but I do not know if I am starting out to big.Do you think I should go less or stick with the strat?"

Callus

Jdemail78 says, "I've been taking Steve's lessons for the past month and during the first week, my finger tips hurt each day I played but I kept on playing because I knew that eventually I'd build up callus on the ends of my fingers and the pain would go away. Sure enough, that happened for the most part but recently they've been starting to hurt again. Not as much when I'm done playing, more when I start playing. After I play for a little while, the pain goes away (like a numb sorta feeling) and then by the time I'm done, they are hurting again. I guess what I'm wondering is how long does this go on for? I can tell that I have callus on my fingers but some of the pain is still there. Does it ever go away completely or do you eventually just get used to it? Thanks."

Guitar Action

Jdemail78 asks, "I hear a lot about guitar action but I'm not really sure what is good or bad. I had purchased an acoustic guitar that I believe had very low action (strings were very close to the neck of the guitar) and it was very easy to play but it ended up having some issues with fret buzz and other ringing sounds that I did not like and could not get corrected at the local guitar shop. I've since replaced it with a little bit better guitar and I no longer have any fret buzz nor do I have any ringing sounds but it seems like the action is higher (strings are much higher off the neck of the guitar) and therefore, for me as a beginner, it is harder to play. My question is when it comes to an experienced guitar player (which I am not...yet...) is it good to have a guitar with higher action or lower action? What would one typically prefer? Do really nice expensive guitars come with very low action making them easy to play but don't have any buzzing issues or is it a case where as you get better, higher action is ok because your better at fretting chords and notes? My curiosity with this comes from a hope that the guitar I have now, with it's strings higher off the fret board, will slowly become easier to play as I get better and I'll become ok with the higher action because it does sound better and cleaner than the one I had with the lower action. Also, please correct me if I have the "high action" "low action" descriptions backwards."

strings

Kenrahn asks, "Hi, I'm a beginner so I would like to know what would be the best strings for this type of guitar. It's an Alvarez Model CY135. Thank You for your help. Ken Rahn"

Mark Lincoln - Singing

Ricky54326 asks, "I have a question, I was at the store the other day and I saw some spray that's supposed to help singing or something, what does it exactly do? Is it worth buying?"

Callus

Jdemail78 says, "I've been taking Steve's lessons for the past month and during the first week, my finger tips hurt each day I played but I kept on playing because I knew that eventually I'd build up callus on the ends of my fingers and the pain would go away. Sure enough, that happened for the most part but recently they've been starting to hurt again. Not as much when I'm done playing, more when I start playing. After I play for a little while, the pain goes away (like a numb sorta feeling) and then by the time I'm done, they are hurting again. I guess what I'm wondering is how long does this go on for? I can tell that I have callus on my fingers but some of the pain is still there. Does it ever go away completely or do you eventually just get used to it? Thanks."

change easy song tabs into alternating bass fingerpicking song

Tommeken says, "Hello there in the far west Playing for a few months all kinds of chords for now and i learned a few lessons from Jim and Steve about finger picking. Now i wanna learn some songs my daughter recognizes so she can sing along. Is there an easy way tot change those simple melody tabs from a songbook into a nice sounding finger picking tune with alternating bass. I mean songs like Alouette, country roads, and so on... Where to begin? what should i keep in mind ? scales? chords ? greetings and thanks for all those nice lessons... Tom"

Mark Lincoln - Singing

Ricky54326 says, "I have a question, I was at the store the other day and I saw some spray that's supposed to help singing or something, what does it exactly do? Is it worth buying?"

First Guitar

Paigew says, "I'm buying my first electric guitar and I am stuck.I was thinking about getting a fender strat but I do not know if I am starting out to big.Do you think I should go less or stick with the strat?"

Small hands

Martin says, "Hi, Great website. Only problem is I'm spending more time watching than practicing!! I currently use a Epiphone Black Beauty Les Paul Custom. This is a great guitar but it has a thick neck and my hands are quite small. Could you recommend a thin neck guitar that would help any of us with small hands? I think a thin neck would certainly help. Cheers, Martin"

reading sheet music

Scando says "Hi there, I am working through a classical guitar book and have come across some annotation I don't quite understand. C.2 --- C.9 --- C.2 --- C.1 --- C.7. What do the various C's stand for? Hope my diagram makes some sense Lars"

Thumb Independence

Kenstyle asks, "How much is the thumb really independent during finger style and how much of it is super coordination with the right hand? thanks in advance!!! Love the lessons"

Guitar Action

Jdemail78 says, "I hear a lot about guitar action but I'm not really sure what is good or bad. I had purchased an acoustic guitar that I believe had very low action (strings were very close to the neck of the guitar) and it was very easy to play but it ended up having some issues with fret buzz and other ringing sounds that I did not like and could not get corrected at the local guitar shop. I've since replaced it with a little bit better guitar and I no longer have any fret buzz nor do I have any ringing sounds but it seems like the action is higher (strings are much higher off the neck of the guitar) and therefore, for me as a beginner, it is harder to play. My question is when it comes to an experienced guitar player (which I am not...yet...) is it good to have a guitar with higher action or lower action? What would one typically prefer? Do really nice expensive guitars come with very low action making them easy to play but don't have any buzzing issues or is it a case where as you get better, higher action is ok because your better at fretting chords and notes? My curiosity with this comes from a hope that the guitar I have now, with it's strings higher off the fret board, will slowly become easier to play as I get better and I'll become ok with the higher action because it does sound better and cleaner than the one I had with the lower action. Also, please correct me if I have the "high action" "low action" descriptions backwards."

whammy bar

Hgnative says, "When i first started playing guitar i took of my whammy bar . i want to use it now and cant seem to get the hang of it well playing any help would be appreciated and whats a dive bomb?"

new used guitar

Dallas says, "Bought a used schecter diamond series elite7 string.had esp ltd and still have. been playing 6months and I'm 48yrs old. Is this a good guitar to practice on or should i get more experience. neck is wider and i have to stretch more on chords plus i have to play up a string. makes me concentrate more.also is the 7th string tuned in B?"

strings

Kenrahn says, "Hi, I'm a beginner so I would like to know what would be the best strings for this type of guitar. It's an Alvarez Model CY135. Thank You for your help. Ken Rahn"

Hell's Bells

Frisa asks, "Hi Dave enjoy your lessons im having problems with the second change of song going from the c chord to the the the slide to the the second fret i use my fourth finger because i cant stretch it like you can so if you have another technique im willing to learn a long song to remember im still going over lesson also i want to learn leads from the roots of the chords what would you suggest thanks for your time and hoping you can help i have been playing along time but never had great instructions like you and jamplay have"

expensive guitars..?

Teewii asks, "hi there! im a beginner guitarist, and i bought an electric guitar from a friend for about 220$(including amp, so it was kinda cheap) even i can see that its not the best guitar in the world, but i guess its more than great for a beginner. but anyway ive been looking around the net at sites where they sell guitars, and i see many that are sold for more than 2000$ (some even more expensive). i was thinking, as i get better, i will get a new guitar, and in that case i was wondering; is there a lot of difference between expensive and "cheaper" guitars? what is different? is it just the sound? and what makes a guitar worth paying 2000$ for? please explain what a good guitar is. hope somebody can answer me. btw, this site is so great =) thanks."

nylon string guitar

Hgnative asks, "hi another question im going to buy a accoustic guitar i love classical guitar sound and i do (try) to play if i was to buy a nylon string guitar can i still play other music on this with out sounding bad like country rock are is this guitar just for classical thank you jamplay PS every time i see classical guitar music being played its on a nylon string guitar"

David Mackenzie

Hcso asks, "I'm asking you this question because you seem to know ACDC very well. When I'm playing the beginning riff to highway to hell I'm getting a real bad buzzing or squealing noise when I transition from D to the rock G chord. It's in the beggining of the song, do I need to find a new chord to try to fit it in to the song. I've tried to palm mute and I can still hear it. Josh Alloway"

Guitar Theory

Brentald asks, "Hi Steve, I am greatly enjoying your lessons...have always wanted to learn, and am making progress. I have tried in the past on my own, but I found that all I was doing was learning by rote. Someone would show me exactly what to do, and I could do it... but that was the extent of it...I couldn't improvise or put anything together on my own. I was also a bit impatient and wanted to sound like Eric Clapton after about two weeks!! Well, I know that's not going to happen sooo...I am on lesson five with you and have made great progress, just strumming chords and enjoying moving them around to produce the simple songs we've strummed so far. However, I can't read music, and in the past when chord theory has been explained to me, or I have tried to read about it, I become utterly lost and confused. I really want to do this....I am 50 years old and don't want to get discouraged again by my inability to understand chord theory....I don't consider myself an idiot...(though some may disagree!!)....I make my living flying Captain on a corporate jet....My question is this....does your experience show that things will eventually begin to make sense as I progress? I am doing fine with the physical aspect of learning, however the theory right now is like trying to drink water from a fire hose. Any advice would really be appreciated. I just don't want to get discouraged as I have in the past. I am really enjoying your lessons, and you make learning the playing part of it easy. Thanks a bunch, Brent"

My Fingers Hurt

Fire Heart asks, "Hi Steve, Jim, Anthony and all Intructor ! I have played guitar for 3 months, and I have some problem with my finger. My finger-ends is very hurt. How about that ( dangerous or something ) ?."

Chord Songbook

Mogs asks, "Hi wonder if you can help please. I've only been playing guitar for a few months and still mastering the basic chords. Somtimes this gets a little boring so I try learn a popular song to add a little fun to my practice sessions. The problem I have is how to read chord songbooks. For example I have a Johnny Cash Song 'Ballad of A Teenage Queen' the intro is written in the book as: CAPO 1ST FRET [A] Dream on, Dream on, [D] teenage [A] queen [D] Prettiest [A] girl we've [E] ever [A] seen. I understand the capo part and have it set up correctly. My question is how many times do I strum the chords ? Looking at the above is it, (A) on 'dream' only or (A) on 'dream' and 'on'. I kind of get it if theres only one word after the chord but when theres two or three I'm not sure wether I strum on each word even though it doesnt show the chord before each word. Hope this is not a silly question, but would really appreciate your advice. Thanks Mogs PS. The site is fantastic, its given me so much motivation to keep on with the practice sessions."

Shifting Chords

Dsrinath_123 asks, "Hi Steve, this is srinath here, enjoying your basic lessons. I have started learning guitar a few months back before joining jamplay, i learned a few chords and while i was doing a chord shifting i used to hit all open strings in the last beat, this is how I learned (I dont want to mention from where i learned). To explain a bit more, let me put this way, I am strumming a 4/4 eight note strum( D U D U D U D U) and two chords Dmajor and Gmajor and when I am going to shift from Dmajor to Gmajor or vice versa, I would hit all open strings at the last note(U) , but in your lesson it seems that we have to shift after the last note, i want to know whether what i am doing now is correct or not, if not please provide me some exercise to correct it. I would be very glad if my question is answered by Steve Eulberg."

Playing Lead and Scales

Larryjfr asks, "I'm just curious to see if I really heard what I thought I heard Steve say? My comment arose because I thought I was understanding the Diatonic Major Scale and Pattern, and the Two Octave Pattern and the Two Octave Pattern on the 5th string. As I was watching Steve's explanation on Scene 5 (Two Octave Pattern) and especially Scene 6 (Two Octave Pattern on 5th String) There were a couple of times Steve was talking about playing the scale on the 5th "fret" and the 6th "fret", yet, I think he meant to say, that he was starting to play the scales on either the 5th string or the 6th string. Because at the time I was watching him, he was playing the scales on 3rd fret, 5th fret and 8th frets also showing us how to always look for the beginning of the scale plus look for what is situated next to it. Also he was explaining how this Two Octave Pattern scale pattern begins on the 5th string, not the sixth string. Yet, he kept saying "playing it on the 5th fret and the 6th fret". I was a little confused ... yet ... I kept expecting him to correct himself ... and ... when he didn't ... I started questioning myself, did I misunderstand him... or ... did I miss something? Steve, thanks for the JamPlay lessons ... I've learned a lot from you is these 14 lessons! Larry F."

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