Category Archives for "General"

Tips For Learning How To Sing While Playing Guitar

Being able to play guitar and sing is one of the most coveted skills out there. Most popular artists do both, which means you’ll be more likely to gain popularity as a musician if you’re able to sing while playing the guitar simultaneously. Teaching yourself to sing with a guitar can be difficult, but thankfully there are some things you can do to make your learning process easier. Here are some tips on learning how to sing while playing guitar:

Find the Root

The first step to learning how to sing with a guitar is finding the root of the chord you’re strumming. For many beginners, this can be a difficult task. We’re often so used to have another person’s voice from a recording to guide us when we’re looking for which notes to sing. When you take away that guidance, many musicians lose their sense of pitch. This is why it’s important to train yourself to find the root of a chord.

If you strum a chord and have no idea which notes to sing, try experimenting with your voice. Some notes you sing will fit with the chord much better than others. This is because when we sing “non-chord tones,” we create dissonance. The notes that sound correct will probably be either the root, third, or fifth of the chord. To ensure you’re singing the correct pitch, find the root on the guitar and pluck the string. If you want to take a look at some of the best fingerstyle guitars, check out this article.

Practice Singing Thirds & Fifths

After you’ve learned how to find the root of a chord with your voice, you can begin to practice harmonizing. Harmony is when we combine different notes together to create texture. If you simply sing the same note an octave higher or lower, you haven’t created any texture. As a singer, it’s important to stack thirds and fifths to create something more complex. The first step to singing thirds is to identify the root of the chord you’re playing.

If your root is C, then a third above will be an E. Likewise if your root is G, a third above will be a B. Find these notes on your guitar to ensure you’re singing the right pitch. To take things even further, you can learn to sing fifths above. A fifth above C is a G, and a fifth above G is a D. If you’re singing with two other musicians, this will allow you to create full major and minor chords vocally.

Use Your Diaphragm

Taking advantage of your diaphragm is important for singers who want to create a powerful sound. Your diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that relaxes when you breathe in air, and contracts when you breathe out. When singing with your diaphragm, it’s important to breathe deeply “into your diaphragm.” Typically, most people breathe very shallowly. Try breathing in deeply and pushing out your stomach as much as you can.

When you exhale, pull your stomach back towards you. This is how you should breathe when you’re singing. Doing so will give you much more presence. If you want to strengthen this muscle, try breathing into your diaphragm for as many counts as you can, holding your breath, and then breathing out slowly. Since many guitarists sit while singing, their breathing can often be compromised. The more you strengthen your diaphragm, the less your vocal power will be compromised from hunching over your guitar.

Use A Capo

If you’re trying to sing a song and you just can’t seem to hit the right notes, it might be because the song isn’t in a key suitable for your vocal range. This problem is common for women singing songs by men and vice versa because men’s voices tend to be a lot lower than women’s. Capos allow musicians to change the key of the song they’re playing without having to mentally work out the new chords. On piano, changing a key requires shifting the chord progression up or down a certain number of steps.

For example, if your chords are: C, F, and G, and you want to raise the key by one whole step, your new chords would be D, G, and A. While changing keys can be simple, more complex chords make things difficult. That’s where a capo comes into the picture. By putting your capo on the first fret and strumming the same chords to a song, as usual, you’ll have raised the key by one-half step.

Therefore, if your chords were: C, F, and G, they will now sound like a C#, F#, and G#. If you’re not sure which key you should be singing in, simply experiment with the capo on different frets to find a range that’s comfortable for your voice. You might find that only one simple half step will solve most of your vocal range problems.

About The Author

Hi there!

I’m Natalie. I work as a professional musician, session guitarist, and guitar teacher, and would like to use my music blog as a personal outlet to share my six-string knowledge with the world.

I’m owner of
Contact me: [email protected]

3 Reasons Why Bass Players Are The Most Important Band Members

bass guitarI just read a cool article talking about how science has finally proven that the bass player is the most important member of the band.

Ha, go figure eh?

Being both a bass player and a guitar player, I’m okay with that news 🙂

Anyhoo, reasons why, being:

  • Our brains recognize and adjust to changes in rhythm more quickly when a lower frequency is
  • Our brains associate the bass sound and voice with dominance and power, far more so than higher frequencies
  • The lowest note played in the chord (a chord can be built using more than one instrument) establishes the harmonic and melodic direction of the music.

The first two are interesting, but they kind of come naturally with the territory.

That last one though – that’s especially interesting, because if the bass player changes the note they’re playing, it can actually change the overall chord that the audience is perceiving.

Because that low note is so powerful and has such a dominant position in setting the stage for all the other notes that other instruments might be playing, the bass player has a really important role.

For instance, if you hang out on the root note of the chord that the guitars are playing, then nothing much changes, because you’re in sync with them, just adding a lower octave.

But – if you want to get a bit more interesting with your playing, and start introducing some walking bass lines, then you’ll be playing different notes over top of their chord.

And that means that technically, the overall chord is changing all the time.

Which can sound really cool.

We talk a bit about this kind of playing in Decoding the Bass.

If you’d like to learn more, you can check it out here.

Congrats! You’ve Graduated to Level 2!


You’ve made it all the way through our Level 1 series of guitar lessons. Regardless of your own thoughts on that, I think it’s worth celebrating. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of the grind, making tiny bits of progress each day, we lose sight of the fact that we’ve actually made significant progress.

Just think – only a few short weeks and months ago, you had basically zero experience on the guitar – a total newbie.

But now, you’re a real guitar player, still early on your journey, but a genuine guitar player nonetheless.

We’ve graduated you ahead into the Level 2 series of lessons, so you should start to receive those shortly.

But before you move on, would you do me a quick favor? If you’ve enjoyed the lessons and seen some progress in your playing, would you tell us about it briefly in the comments below? I’d love to hear where you were at when you started Level 1, and also how things have changed now that you’ve graduated.


Jonathan Boettcher


How To Use A Guitar Tuner

How To Use A Guitar TunerOne of the most common questions that beginners ask me is “How to use a guitar tuner?”

So I thought I would make a quick lesson here on how to use a digital guitar tuner to tune your guitar.

Tuning your guitar is incredibly important. If the guitar isn’t in tune, you’re not going to want to play it, because it will sound terrible. It’s pretty much that simple. So if you’re just getting started, there’s nothing that’s more demoralizing than sounding terrible all the time, so that’s something you need to fix! Strangely enough, this is still one of the most often-overlooked issues that beginners face. Simply taking the time to tune your guitar before you play it will make for a much more enjoyable practice session… and don’t even get me started if you’re planning on performing! It doesn’t matter how good a person is on the guitar, tuning the instrument is ALWAYS the first step.

As a side note, if you’re really struggling to get your guitar properly in tune, and you already know how to use a guitar tuner, then there is a very good possibility that the intonation is out on your guitar. If so, I recommend checking out these guitar setup tips.

Thankfully, tuning your guitar only takes a few moments with an electronic guitar tuner, so sit back and learn what you can in the next 8 minutes!

How To Use A Guitar Tuner

You might also want to check out a related lesson that I did on How To Tune Your Guitar By Ear. Hopefully this lesson will clear up any questions on how to use a guitar tuner.


How to Use a Guitar Capo

How To Use A Guitar CapoYou don’t see too many people using guitar capo’s – in fact I know some guitar players jokingly call them ‘lady fingers’ – but the fact is you can get some really cool and unique sounds out of your guitar, completely different from what you normally hear, simply by knowing how to use a guitar capo.

Using a capo is the easiest way to transpose something, and can work great if you want to play a song that is in the wrong key for your voice – simply move the capo to a place on the neck that works with your voice, and away you go!

Another very cool feature of using a guitar capo is that you really change the sound of the guitar; if you move it a ways up the neck the guitar can even start to sound a bit like a mandolin or another much higher instrument. If you’re clever, you can use this to your advantage and create some very interesting sounds… this is a great technique for adding a second guitar part to a song you’re recording for instance.

Click Here To Checkout Guitar Capos on

Just be careful though, if you’re playing with other instruments, you’re going to need to be careful to transpose the chords that you’re playing, because you are actually playing different chords once you capo the guitar. For instance, a normal open G chord, with the capo at the second fret, becomes an A chord.

One thing to keep in mind is that applying a guitar capo changes the tension on the strings, and as such, can alter the tuning of the guitar. Make sure you check your tuning after applying a capo, as well as after you’ve removed it. (See related post: How To Use A Guitar Tuner)

Video Problems? Watch How To Use a Guitar Capo on Youtube

2 Stocking Stuffers For Guitar Players

christmasChristmas is just around the corner, and that means I’ve been fielding the annual question of “Hey Jonathan, what do you want for Christmas?”

Strangely enough, I always have a hard time coming up with answers for that question, but it got me to thinking – what would be some cool ideas for stocking stuffers or gifts for guitar players?

Well, I’ve got a few ideas here. A few of them are even on my own list! =)

1. Strap Locks

Strap locks are super handy for your guitar – a close friend of mine once dropped his $2500 GNL (yeah… it broke in half) because the guitar strap fell off. Sucky way to learn a lesson. Strap locks guarantee your guitar is never coming off unless you want it too. They’re pretty easy to install (if you’re not sure, just bring them in and get a guitar mechanic to do it for you) and they’re pretty cheap too.

2. Electronic Guitar Tuner

If you know a guitar player that doesn’t have an electronic guitar tuner, then this one is a no-brainer. Electronic tuners are excellent because they don’t depend on your ear unlike tuning forks and the like. They consistently get you exactly in tune (though like any tool – you have to use it correctly!). Big benefit? If your guitar is electric or has a pickup, you can plug it in and peacefully tune your guitar right in the middle of a 120 decibel rock concert without difficulty.

3. Guitar Stand

Don’t like always digging your guitar out of the case each time you want to play it? Have an amazingly beautiful gem of an axe that you simply want to display to the world? Or do you simply want some place safe to put your guitar while you run to the bathroom in the middle of a practice session? A guitar stand is your answer…

4. Guitar Strap

At under $4 this workhorse of the guitar world is truly a great stocking stuffer. Nothing fancy here – we’re talking about a plain black strap. However, if you can squeeze an extra few bucks out of your budget, you’ll likely find something more colorful, or even leather. Straps are a cool way of adding a bit of personality to your guitar. My personal favorite strap is the one I use on my electric – its white leather with black music notes on it. I think Stevie Ray Vaughn used one just like it! Here’s One Just Like It

5. Guitar Capo

One of these days I’m going to do a lesson on using a guitar capo. Capos let you instantly transpose a song into another key, and they’re tons of fun because you can get some really crazy tunings out of your guitar by capoing only some of the strings. Most commonly though, you can use a capo to play a song that is in F for instance as if it were in open E (chords are MUCH easier) simply by putting the capo at the first fret. Great for guitar players of all levels.

6. Guitar Strings

Buying a guitar player more strings is like getting a ‘normal’ person more socks. Eventually they’re going to need more, and what better place to get resupplied than their Christmas stocking? I’ve put a link here for D’Addario light acoustic strings, which is what I use personally on my acoustic, however if you click through you’ll find electric strings there as well. I was surprised to see Amazon selling three sets for less than $20 – usually I pay more locally! A quick tip for keeping your guitar playing fresh – replace your strings often. I try to do mine once a month to keep that great sounding tone.

7. Guitar Picks

Last, but not least (though definitely cheapest!) are guitar picks. Every guitar player needs them (well – some of you might be hardcore finger pickers I guess) and these things are always getting lost or worn out. You can get a nice pack of picks for a few bucks, and why not throw in one of those handy pick holder gizmos as well? Every guitar player has their own preference on the hardness of their picks – personally I prefer a medium-hard pick… something around .83 or .88 mm.

Well that’s it for this year’s stocking stuffers list for guitar players! Any other great ideas? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!

…and a Merry Christmas to you :)!