It’s difficult to overstate the versatility of the electric guitar. Like acoustic guitars, the electric guitar’s structure largely determines its tone. This includes its shape, the materials used to create it, its strings, and the way in which these strings are positioned on the neck of the guitar. On top of the elements that electric guitars share with their acoustic brethren, electrics guitars come in a myriad of forms that are based upon three distinct styles. Each style generates a distinct tone.
The first is the hollow body, or archtop, guitar. These guitars are known as hollow bodies because, like acoustics, the body of the guitar is hollow. These were among the first electric guitars ever created, and share many other aesthetic features with the acoustic guitar. There are several fundamental differences, however. First and foremost, archtop guitars have a convex or arched top (hence the name), two violin-style “f-holes” on either side of the bridge, and one or more pickups. This type of guitar, when not distorted, generates a very warm tone that is more popular in jazz than rock. However, as any electric guitar can be altered to generate a new tone, many archtops are outfitted with mechanisms to increase the guitar’s tremolo, thereby creating the “twangy” tone that is common in rockabilly and country music.
The second is the solid body guitar. This is what most people envision when they think of an electric guitar. Unlike the archtop, the solid body guitar does not have a cavity in which the sounds of the vibrating strings can resonate, nor does it have a convex top. The pickups capture only the vibrations of the strings, turn them into a electric signal, and then shoot this signal through a series of wires and cords, which may be routed through pedals that can distort or alter the sound in a massive variety of ways, and then on to the amplifier.
The final type of electric guitar is the semi-hollow body. The semi-hollow body guitar looks very similar to the archtop guitar, but it is thinner. This is because the semi-hollow does not rely solely on the resonance of the guitar in order to create its sound. The semi-hollow has a long piece of wood that runs through the center of the body, which cuts back on much of the resonance created by using an archtop, thereby generating a sound that is akin to both the solid body and hollow body, but unique in its own right. Its tone is richer than the former, but punchier than the latter.
What is common to all electric guitars is that a change in pickup will result in a change of tone. Most electric guitars will be outfitted with at least two pickups—one close to the bridge and one close to the neck. The closer a pickup is to the neck, the warmer and fatter the sound will be. The closer a pickup is to the bridge, the brighter the tone will be. Guitarists can adjust the pickups using the knobs and switches on the guitar in order to find just the right tone while on stage, allowing them to find the perfect tone for each song, or even for each part of any given song.
Further variations can be made once the signal leaves the guitar and begins on its path to the amplifier. It can be rerouted through one or more pedals that further shape the sound, thereby allowing the guitarist to add all of the colorings and effects that his or her heart desires.
Given the myriad modifications that can be made to any one of these three types of guitar, as well as the nearly infinite number of alterations that can be made to the signal, the electric guitar is one of the most, if not the most, versatile instruments available to any musician.
This article will explain in detail how to perform touch harmonics anywhere on the guitar neck. Most people who have learned to play guitar at a fair to intermediate level understand that there are open harmonics on the guitar neck at the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets respectively.
By very lightly holding a finger over the string and fret, and then continuing with that action,can sound these â€œopenâ€ harmonics. They have a â€œringingâ€ or bell-like resonance to them. With much practice, one can learn how to put these harmonic sounds together, and incorporate these notes into a song.
â€œTouchâ€ harmonics are totally different in the manner, which they are played, but they are â€œtrueâ€ harmonics, and not â€œfakeâ€ as some people believe. They are based upon the dynamics of the instruments unique qualities. â€œTouchâ€ harmonics are played in a â€œclosedâ€ fashion; meaning that they cannot be sounded without first â€œfrettingâ€ the note being played as a harmonic.
To break this down to where it is easily understood, let us consider how the â€œopenâ€ fret (5th, 7th, and 12th frets) harmonics work. Since they are played in these positions â€“ by fretting any single note on the guitar, then counting up 12 frets from where it is fretted â€“ you may lightly touch the string (12 frets from where it is being â€œclosedâ€ (fretted) then place the finger of the right hand exactly at the 12th fret above where it is fretted â€“ then very lightly â€œpluckâ€ the string (while holding your finger slightly upon it) it can be sounded as a harmonic.
It does not matter where you decide to fret a note; what does matter is that you lightly â€œtouchâ€ the string with the finger of the right hand exactly 12 frets above where the note is fretted. For example â€“ to sound a harmonic at the 14th fret â€“ you would have to do 4 steps.
(1.) The first thing being â€“ choose the note of whichever string you want to sound as a harmonic, and â€œcloseâ€ or â€œfretâ€ it, at the 2nd fret. (Then, you know the harmonic will be played at the 14th fret.)
(2.) The second thing you need to do, is press the same string down (or â€œfret) the note with the left hand â€“ in the 2nd fret.
(3.) The third thing to do is to count 12 frets above the note you want to do a â€œtouchâ€ harmonic on.
(4.) The fourth step is two-part â€“ lightly â€œtouchâ€ the same note with the right hand fingertip. Then at the same time â€“ â€œlightly pluckâ€ that string â€“ about an inch behind where you are touching it with the right hand. (This works best with a finger-pick â€“ the kind that goes on your thumb.
Therefore, to â€œgetâ€ a â€œtouchâ€ harmonic to sound â€“ you must do all four steps at the same time.
This may sound somewhat hard to do, but with a little practice, it will become easy. If you understand how to play scales, (doing them one note at a time â€“ in the thinking process) you put the chosen notes together, and play them one at a time, this process allows you to put the scale together, and play a â€œriff.â€
Once you understand how to do the â€œtouchâ€ harmonic, you then can even play scales using nothing but these touch harmonics. This sounds pretty awesome to do so. I have been playing guitar for over forty years â€“ but I was never shown how to do a â€œtouchâ€ harmonic, until about 3 years ago.
I now can play complete scales using â€œtouchâ€ harmonics. There is no end to what you can learn to do with them â€“ once you fully understand how to use them. If you have ever heard the famous Australian guitarist: Tommy Emmanuel, then you know he uses many harmonics in his playing.
He plays a finger-style (thumb-picking) and the arrangements he comes up with are nothing short of astounding. He says he first heard the famous Chet Atkins doing an arrangement on the radio (nearly fifty years ago) and he knew enough about guitar to know that he was doing the entire piece at the same time. (It was no recording trick)
They became friends, and Chet taught him the â€œtouchâ€ harmonic technique, and the rest is history. Tommy took this technique, and greatly advanced the use of them to get a sound which is completely his own. If you go to YouTube, and type Tommy Emannuel's name in, you can watch at least forty or fifty of his videos. He will greatly inspire you as a guitar player.
His guitar arrangements are legendary, and his sound is completely his own. Once you â€œgetâ€ and understand how to use these â€œtouchâ€ harmonics, you can then incorporate them into your own playing. They make the guitar have a unique â€œharpâ€ sound, and are quite beautiful.
To further your knowledge of how to use harmonics to increase your playing, try this exercise:
Simply make any guitar chord (using the closed position for all six strings,) then reach up 12 frets for every note, (one at a time) and touch with the right hand fingertip the individual notes of the chord being fretted, and "pluck very gently" behind the fingertip, (as you touch it) wherever you touch it: 12 frets up (with the right hand thumb) to sound each note independently as a harmonic.
There are currently many different types of guitars on the market. However they basically fall into either acoustic or electric categories. Below you will find a break down of the different types of guitars and their defining features.
Electric guitars usually have six strings, twenty to twenty-four frets, no sound hole, and a jack. Bass guitars, which are a type of electric guitar, have four to six strings, no sound hole, a jack, and twenty-four to twenty-six frets, though you can also purchase fretless basses now.
You have decided you want to learn to play the guitar. It's not as simple as sitting down with the guitar one day, beginning to strum. It takes dedication and practice, along with a few other techniques you may not have considered, such as visualization
Begin Learning By Yourself
Why should you start learning by yourself? Because you can make mistakes in the privacy of your own room. Nobody else is around to see you muff that chord. You are under less pressure this way, making it simpler for you to actually push through those first difficult steps.
Access some websites that offer free guitar chord charts and practice your fingering. As you strum down, expect some of your chords to sound fuzzy, buzzy and muffled. Until you get used to where your fingers belong, and until you are able to press down on each string, this will happen. It's natural.
Once you've learned the basics, you'll be able to figure out what a guitar teacher is telling you to do. This means a little less frustration for the both of you.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Set aside a little time every day to practice. Try for a maximum of thirty minutes a day to practice. If you won't be able to practice for thirty minutes on a particular day, practice for as long as you can. If it's fifteen minutes, you managed to get something in. Learn the lingo: frets, strings, nylon versus steel strings, pics, capos.
When you practice, choose a few chords and work on these. Learn new strum patterns. Practice tuning your instrument. Whatever you work on, practice it until you are comfortable with it.
Choose some new chords and practice forming them with your hand. Study your chord charts and place your fingers, as indicated, on the correct strings. For instance, an A chord uses your forefinger, middle finger and ring finger, with all three placed on the three center strings on the first fret. Practice each chord until your fingers are comfortable with their placement on the fretboard. Pay close attention to which fret your fingers are supposed to be on, because placing them on the wrong fret affects the sound of the chord.
Practice Chord Changes
You have your fingers placed on the A chord and you want to switch to an E chord. Here, you'll need to consciously look at each chord and where your finger is on your guitar. As you change to a new chord, you'll literally pick one finger up at a time and move it. Yes, it will be a slow process at first. Keep practicing and allow your fingers to develop muscle memory for each chord. Before you know it, when you see a new chord, your fingers will automatically change to the new chord without you having to think about where each finger should go.
Learn to Tune Your Instrument
It's much easier for you to learn your new instrument when it sounds right. If you are learning on a 6-string guitar, the strings are tuned to a high E, A, D, G, B and a low E. Use a tuning fork, a portable electronic tuner, your ears, or, if your instrument is so equipped, the tuner that's built into it.
Once you get skilled enough, you'll be able to tell automatically how your guitar should sound. When you change to new strings, you'll have to tune frequently because the strings are tight, not stretched out. If the humidity changes, this also affects your instrument's sound.
Imagine Yourself Playing
Finally, visualize yourself playing simple tunes. Imagine yourself playing the new chords you're working on learning. For the chords you remember more easily, physically position your fingers in that chord. Do the same for a second chord, then begin slowly switching between these chords until it feels natural for you.
Do this visualization exercise every time you are relaxing or watching television. The next time you sit down with your guitar, you'll remember more easily where your fingers are supposed to go for a particular chord and your practice session will go more easily.
"Heavier" string gauges - i.e. those that have thicker strings, give more sustain, and enhance a guitar's natural tone. They often hold their tuning better than lighter gauges.
"Lighter" string gauges are easier to "bend" notes with, but have a much thinner sound. However it is also easy to accidentally bend a note out of tune with light string gauges.
You should practise as often as you want to. If practising feels like a real chore, then leave it for that day.
10 minutes of inspired practice in a day is worth far more than an hour slogging away at something you don't enjoy!
Remember - playing guitar is FUN! You PLAY it - you don't WORK it!
|Sheri Ann Richerson|