For questions about guitar playing in general. For questions specifically about solid-body electric guitars, see "electric-guitar". For questions specifically about acoustic guitars with or without pickup systems, see "acoustic-guitar".

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64
votes
8answers
4k views

Why is the guitar tuned like it is?

Why is there that funny tuning kink between the G and B string on a guitar in standard tuning? I.e., the (musical) gap between the rest of the adjoining strings is 5 frets (or a perfect fourth), but ...
52
votes
7answers
1k views

Ten Minute Practice Techniques For Guitar?

Unfortunately I can't play everyday. However, I am trying to grab at least 5-10 minutes here and there. What are some good theory or scale techniques/practice methods I should have ready to pull out ...
46
votes
18answers
4k views

How often should I replace the strings on my guitar?

When and why should you replace your guitar strings?
45
votes
17answers
1k views

Ways to get out of a scalar rut?

I'm a well versed and experienced guitarist. I have a decent sense for rhythm and melody, but I have a VERY hard time with soloing. I know you've heard it all before.. I'm one of those guys that got ...
40
votes
8answers
2k views

Will learning to play another instrument help me to become a better guitarist?

I am a programmer and I do this for living. As a programmer, I've noticed how much difference it makes to learn another language - the quality of your work improves greatly, just because you know how ...
35
votes
16answers
10k views

Changing the strings: one by one, or by taking all strings off at one time?

The title says it all. Should I change strings one by one, or take them all at once? Does this matter at all? If I take all strings off, will it damage my neck in any way, because the pressure is ...
33
votes
10answers
5k views

How do you identify a good guitar?

What do you look for when going for a guitar? I own an acoustic and am looking for a better one. What should I be looking for? Wood quality, brand, strings, etc.?
32
votes
16answers
6k views

What do you do when a string breaks or you drop your pick on stage?

One of my nightmares when I'm on stage is breaking a string or losing my pick. The former has happened to me before once, and also once right before I had to go on stage. Are there any tips my ...
30
votes
5answers
13k views

Position of white dots in guitar fretboard

I was wondering why are the white dots in the fretboard usually placed in frets number 3,5,7,9,12,15,17,19 and 21. I know that their general purpose is for counting, but what I wonder is why are they ...
29
votes
11answers
8k views

As a guitarist, how can I learn to sight-read music?

I'm learning guitar right now, mostly from Justin Sandercoe's free online lessons, starting from the beginner's course. He has a lot of good tips for how to practice and drill chords, and scales, but ...
26
votes
18answers
22k views

Best method to learn to play barre chords?

I've been trying to learn the F chord for a while now, and I am having a very hard time playing the barre chord. I've read that pulling back slightly with your finger and using the body of the guitar ...
26
votes
9answers
742 views

What is the best way of learning the notes on the fretboard.

What is the best way to learn the notes on the fretboard. Are there any good tips on how to do this?
25
votes
7answers
721 views

What tools should every guitarist have?

What tools should every guitarist have to do most small/medium projects for their guitars? (change strings, tuners, knobs, pickups)
22
votes
15answers
2k views

Which instrument can a person play with 2 malformed fingers on each hand?

Due to a birth defect, I have 2 malformed fingers on both hands (fingers 1,2). (The picture is from the web just to illustrate the fingers i'm talking about.) I've seen GuiGui Zheng videos, it is ...
22
votes
9answers
3k views

“one finger per fret” - is it worth following this rule?

When I first got into guitar, I was given advice to follow a "one finger per fret" rule with the left hand. Basically, to fret notes with all four fingers, and to follow a pattern such that in any ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is my guitar's saddle at an angle?

Most acoustic guitars I've seen, including my own, have an angled saddle (the white strip holding up the strings): This makes the bass strings longer than the treble strings. Why is this? ...
22
votes
6answers
4k views

Do guitar strings wear when not used?

Do strings wear because of the pressure applied to them or any other factor, or do they stay in quite the same shape as long as you don't use them?
22
votes
6answers
30k views

What is the Difference between Maple and Rosewood Fretboards

Is there a difference that's based on feel or sound - why are they the two most widely used choices?
21
votes
5answers
19k views

How does scale length affect my playing?

This one's a bit rudimentary, but scale length is a bit of a mystery to me. I understand what it is, but I don't understand what it does. I own guitars with different scale lengths (Telecaster vs ...
21
votes
12answers
28k views

Why shouldn't I put electric guitar strings on my acoustic guitar?

I've always found even the lightest acoustic (bronze) guitar strings to be a bit too heavy to play comfortably. Electric (nickel) guitar strings tend to be lighter. But nobody uses electric strings on ...
21
votes
4answers
9k views

How should I “store” my guitars?

I have a bunch of guitars of varying quality from unplayable to quite nice. I intend to hang some (or all) of them on walls for decoration, but I'm not sure if this is good for the guitars, so perhaps ...
20
votes
9answers
22k views

Why do some artists tune their guitars half a step or whole step down?

Is there a reason some guitarists tune down half or whole steps, other than preference or style? It bugs me sometimes when I would like to play along with a song only to find that it's played down ...
20
votes
5answers
440 views

What are some of the components of a good guitar solo?

Putting aside the emotional value of listening to a great guitar solo, what are some of the criteria that can be applied to make an educated judgement as to the quality of a solo within the context of ...
20
votes
9answers
23k views

Why learn scales? What are they for?

I tried Googling but it seems there is no answer for this one. So the internet assumes everyone knows what scales are for? Why should I learn them? Are they important to be a good guitarist?
20
votes
5answers
2k views

Recycling guitar strings

This one goes out to all my eco-friendly shredder pals. Does anyone know of an organization that takes guitar strings and recycles them? I run through quite a few packs per month on a heavy gigging ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

Boiling/washing used guitar/bass strings - is it worthwhile?

I've read that some people boil their strings from time to time to make them sound again like they were new (and save some money). Is this really worthwhile, or are there any disadvantages to this?
20
votes
1answer
1k views

Why guitar sounds smoother in high frets?

When I (or you) pluck 2nd string fret 10, and pluck 1st string fret 5, which it's the same octave of the A note. Why when you pluck the 2nd string, it feels smoother than when you pluck the 1st ...
20
votes
8answers
916 views

Why does conventional playing style give the string manipulation to the left hand?

For the majority of players, the right hand is used for most tasks that require exacting manipulation: writing, throwing, etc. However, guitar, violin, lute, etc., etc., use the right hand for ...
20
votes
8answers
4k views

Arthritis In Hands (Playing With Pain In Hands) - Are There Recommended Approaches?

I have been playing guitar for 12 years now and I'm 28. I am under treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis (R.A.) and was wondering if anyone who has R.A., or other pain in their hands, has any approaches ...
19
votes
7answers
3k views

What is the difference between upstrokes and downstrokes while strumming a guitar?

One of the most basic guitar skills are strumming up and down freely. And I have noticed in songs that there usually appears to be a difference in sounds between the two strokes. But when I'm ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

Does leaving a capo on “hurt” the strings?

On occasion I've accidentally left a capo on (overnight). Does this decrease the life of the strings, staying in tune time, hurt the neck, or anything else that's bad?
18
votes
7answers
9k views

Improving fretting hand strength

I've been playing for years now as a hobby guitarist, but my fretting hand strength plateaued - it never really improved much beyond what I could do 2 months after I started playing. Since then, I'm ...
18
votes
3answers
530 views

Playing a Coltrane polychord and the limits of space

As I was the reading sheet music for John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, I noticed a chord I had never seen before. It looks like this: I'm familiar with slash chords, but never had to practically ...
17
votes
12answers
18k views

How can I toughen up my fingertips?

Recently I played my acoustic guitar after a couple months of only playing my classical guitar. My fingers have softened considerably compared to when I was playing the acoustic regularly, and it was ...
17
votes
11answers
12k views

Why is dropped D tuning used so often?

Many metal/rock songs use dropped D tuning. What reasons are there for it?
17
votes
10answers
5k views

Why are there many guitarists, but only one drummer in a band?

In a band, there will be many guitarists. However, there will always be only one drummer. Why can't there be more than one drummer in a band? Are there any cultural or musical reasons behind it or ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Why do tube-based guitar amplifiers sound so good?

Is it just a cultural thing ("they've always sounded that way") or is there some basis in music theory for this?
17
votes
3answers
434 views

Poor quality guitars that don't tune

So since I got it at a discount price, I noticed this Yamaha I have won't tune properly. Specifically if I tune the strings to a perfect EADGBE (using a good digital tuner), then I cross check the ...
17
votes
7answers
3k views

Pick weight - functional difference, or just personal preference?

I'm at the very beginning of learning to play guitar, and I recently needed to buy some more picks. This was more complex than I was expecting, since there are apparently many different weights of ...
16
votes
8answers
9k views

What chord is formed by the open strings of a guitar in standard (EADGBe) tuning?

Here is something that I have been wondering about for a while: If you strum all six strings of a guitar in standard (EADGBe) tuning what chord would you play? I think it would be some variety of a ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do frets get closer as the notes get higher?

Why do spaces between guitar frets get smaller as the notes get higher?
16
votes
8answers
8k views

What is intonation and how can I find out if my guitar has correct intonation?

What is intonation? What is the best way to check my intonation and fix it if necessary?
16
votes
7answers
1k views

Why are guitars strung low-to-high?

Why not the high E at the top and the low E bottom? I haven't even heard of an alternate tuning that's similar. Is there a reason for this?
16
votes
2answers
446 views

Why does the C7 chord on guitar omit the G note (5th) in open position?

0 C7 C7 ( 1-3-5-flat7) is suppose to contain a G as its 5th right? So how does a guitar get away with this in open position?
16
votes
5answers
596 views

Is it possible to create the illusion of a sub-harmonic?

The way I understand it, a normal plucked tone consists of a great many overtones in addition to the base tone. A pinched harmonic, however, shifts the base tone higher into the overtone series by ...
16
votes
2answers
6k views

What is concert pitch?

I was watching a song video lesson earlier today and it mentioned that the guitar should be tuned to concert pitch. What does that mean? Is it different from the normal EADGBE tuning?
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Symbols “M”, “C”, “D”, and “P” in Guitar Tablature

I was reading a songbook by Richie Kotzen, and in the song "Shine" (which he played with Mr. Big), there's a rythm guitar part that goes like this: What do the symbols M, C, D and P mean? I'm ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

Coated Strings—Gimmick, or worth the money?

Never used them myself, but I had a friend who used to swear by the plastic-coated strings he bought for his electric to try and help keep them cleaner. While I realize this probably does do ...
15
votes
3answers
7k views

Why is an amplifier's effects loop useful?

When should you plug gear into your amplifier's effects loop and not into the standard input?
15
votes
7answers
623 views

Where does picking speed come from? Forearm, hand, or bicep?

Where specifically on the arm/hand should rapid picking speed come from?