• Buyers Guides, Guitar, Ryan Casperson, Video 12.05.2013 Comments Off on Should I buy a left or right handed guitar?

    Here is video that will walk you through making a good decision about choosing a left of right handed guitar if you are a lefty.


    Should I buy a left or right-handed guitar?

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  • Guitar, Ryan Casperson 28.11.2011 Comments Off on The Shape of Your Pick Matters!

    Earlier, we discussed how the thickness of your pick can impact your playing. This time, let’s take a look at the shape of the pick.

    Rounded Tip Picks: These picks don’t "bite" into the strings and as a result, work great for strumming. The pick can glide over the strings without getting stuck on any individual string. The drawback is that picking individual strings becomes more effort.

    Pointy Tip Picks: These are preferred by players who like to play fast, intricate lines. The point can "stick" to the string and greatly increase your accuracy and speed when alternate picking, string skipping, or tremolo picking. Fast players prefer these greatly!

    Large Pick vs. Small Pick: This is a point of debate, but my opinion is that the larger the pick, the more you need to control. While it is easier to hold on to a larger pick, getting it to move fast takes more effort. The small "Jazz" picks are more maneuverable and once you get used to them, I find it hard to use anything else.

    Having problems holding onto your pick while playing? Try using picks with either raised writing or holes through it. If your favorite pick doesn’t have either, try drilling a couple holes yourself (or use a hole punch if you’re strong enough!). There are glue-like products you can put on the pick to make it stickier, but I think that would really be the last resort. Who wants to clean glue up every time they play guitar?

    Of course, there is a right pick out there for every player, so try them all out and find yourself the perfect pick!

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  • Bass, Guitar, Ryan Casperson 19.11.2011 Comments Off on Thin, Medium or Heavy Guitar Picks?

    There are lots of different kinds of picks. Finding the right pick for you can make playing much easier!

    Thin picks are great for strumming chords. They bend against the strings while you strum and have very little resistance. The downside to thin picks is that they bend and have very little resistance! This means they aren’t very good for doing fast single note runs. If your style is mostly playing chords, this could be a good fit.

    Medium picks still have some give when you are strumming, but work much better for hitting individual strings. These are great when you are strumming chords as well as picking some individual notes out of them.

    Heavy picks don’t have any give at all and that is exactly why they are perfect for fast picking. If you want to shred and play the fast lead parts, heavy is the way to go!

    Besides how stiff a pick is, there are other factors you may consider. Larger picks are easier to hold on to. Smaller picks are more maneuverable. Sharp picks can dig into the string faster, and dull ones have a much more rounded tone. Try them all and find the one that’s right for you!

  • Guitar 26.04.2011 Comments Off on What is a "Capo?" And do I need one?

    A "Capo" is a clamp that can be put over any fret of your guitar. Wherever you set it, that fret now becomes "zero" and you play your open chords relative to that. So if you have the Capo on the 1st fret and play an E Major chord, what you are actually playing is now one note higher (F Major). If you used the A, C and D shapes,  you would actually be playing A#, C# and D#. Using a Capo is a very easy way to play in different keys without having to learn a bunch of new chords.

    One famous examples of Capo use is "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles. George Harrison clamped his Capo on the 7th fret of his guitar and used D, G, A7 and E chord shapes "relative" to the Capo. The result is that the guitar sounds very bright, happy and uplifting which adds to the optimistic message of the song. While the Capo is often used to "cheat" difficult chords, it can also be brilliantly used to aid creativity and explore new terrain on your guitar.

    Do you need one? That depends. Some styles of music rely heavily on Capos (Country, folk, pop) and there will be songs that you might want to play that can only be done correctly using one. A lot of times you can get around needing one if you are good with your "Bar Chords," but the Capo sure would make things easier. They are also a lot of fun to play around with, even if you know tons of different chord shapes. And they aren’t very expensive either (around $5- $20 depending on which style you get) so you don’t have to invest much to give em a try!

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  • Guitar, Practice, Ryan Casperson, Tools 27.01.2011 Comments Off on Top 4 Tools For Practicing Guitar!

    In the olden days, the only high tech tools people had to learn their favorites songs on guitar was their record player and their ear. Today, the options for guitar players are endless! Here are my top 4 choices.


    1) Guitar Pro 6 is a Guitar Tab player for Windows/Mac/ and Linux that boasts being "A tablature editor, score player and backing band all in one." When you download GuitarPro song files (from sites like Ultimate-Guitar.com), you usually are given music for all the parts of the song, including melody, drums and bass! You can speed up or slow the playback so you can practice at slower speeds while you are learning the new tune. While its price tag of $59 may seem a bit high, the accuracy of its transcriptions and the massive song library online more than makes up for it. And the songs you download (after you bought the software) are all free. This is really helpful for guitar students! Visit their website to learn more: https://www.guitar-pro.com/en/index.php

    2) Power Tab is a free tablature editor and score player that is very similar to Guitar Pro. You really can’t beat free! However, while Power Tab also has a very extensive online song catalog, the accuracy isn’t quite as consistent as Guitar Pro. Luckily you can listen to the tab’s playback and hear if its right before you invest time studying it. There often are several different versions for the same song, so try the ones rated best first. Power Tab also is an older program and I haven’t seen any updates for it in years but the good news is that it’s already a solid program and doesn’t need any extra frills. You can learn more or download for free here: https://www.power-tab.net/

    3) The Tab ToolKit from Agile Partners is perhaps my favorite app for the iPad, iTouch and iPhone. This app lets you open Guitar Pro and Power tab song files right onto your device! I don’t usually practice in front of my computer, but my phone is always with me. The price tag of $9.99 seemed high to me at first for an app, but when you compare it to the $59 you would pay for Guitar Pro, it is almost a no-brainer! The only drawback is if you only have WiFi internet, you can only access new songs when you are at a hotspot (or on your home wireless network). But once you download a song, its there until you erase it. So you can quickly build an impressive tab library right on your device. Learn more here:  https://www.agilepartners.com/apps/tabtoolkit/

    4) The Tascam CD-GT2 allows you to slow down difficult songs, loop sections or eliminate unwanted parts that are getting in your way. What I love about the CD-GT2 is that it focuses on a musicians most powerful tool: their ear! It can feel overwhelming to sit down with a song and try to figure it out on your own and that is where slowing and looping can really help. Take something that sounds relatively simple, loop it, slow it, and have patience! Figure out small parts. This is how so many guitar masters have learned their craft. Have your teacher help get you started. It’s extremely satisfying when you figure out a part on your own. You can learn more here:   https://tascam.com/product/cd-gt2/

    Have fun and practice hard!

  • Apps, Guitar 14.01.2011 Comments Off on The Gibson Learn & Master Guitar App is awesome and FREE!

    This free app for for iPhone and Touch users has a tuner, metronome, chord dictionary and videos.  More details at Gibson or download it here on iTunes


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  • Bass, Drums, Guitar, Jennifer Iovanne, performing, Singers, Violin, Voice, Woodwinds 15.02.2010 Comments Off on Stage Fright: Conquer your fear!

    With our biannual student concert just around the corner, some tips to help combat stage fright are in order!  Ah, stage fright – that dreaded onslaught of fear so many of us experience before (and sometimes while) we perform.  The pulse quickens.  Breathing becomes short, shallow and unsupported.  Hands become sweaty and shaky.  Sound familiar?

    Stage fright is completely normal — and yes, there are several things you can do to help ease stage fright immediately.  The best solution over time?  Perform often!  Sounds counterintuitive, but the more often you get up there and perform, the easier it becomes over time. Here are some pointers to help make your struggle with stage fright a little easier:



    1. Know your material.  Practice, practice, practice.  A lot of the fear of performing is centered around making a mistake — hitting a wrong note, forgetting a line.  The more you know your song, the more confidence you’ll feel!
    2. Breathe!  (And keep breathing!)  Challenge yourself to breathe slowly and deeply — 10 seconds in, 10 seconds out; repeat.  Also, try yawning and stretching.  Relaxing your body and your breath will ease the uncomfortable feelings associated with stage fright.
    3. Fake it.  If you’re scared, that’s ok.  Smile anyway.  Walk with confidence.  Give it all you’ve got.  Chances are, the audience won’t know you were nervous, and will be wowed by your stellar performance!
    4. Think of the performance as a reward.  You’re here because you’ve worked hard, had a blast, learned a lot — and now you want to share that joy with others!  Performing is an awesome way to stay motivated, meet other musicians, and celebrate what you have accomplished!
    5. Use a mantra.  Sounds a little cheesy, but some folks find a phrase ("I can do it/I am strong/Share your joy"….) and repeat it in their heads while prepping for a performance.  For many folks, using a mantra provides a sense of comfort, and helps focus the mind.
    6. Think ahead: for most of us, the hardest part of stage fright hits us BEFORE we perform, and usually eases up within the minute or so of our performance.  After performing, lots of us feel a rush of excitement and relief — no matter how scared we were beforehand, lots of us finish the performance with a huge smile on their face and a rush of excitement — performing feels great, and we want to relive the experience!
    7. Come prepared: be a few minutes early.  Have a light snack.  Avoid caffeine and lots of sugar.  If you’re a singer, warm up your voice. Bring a water bottle.
    8. Think positive thoughts:  you’re here because you’ve worked hard and had a lot of fun, and you want to share that with others!  Always remember, the audience is on your side.  We WANT you to have fun and rock your performance!  🙂

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  • Buyers Guides, For Parents, Guitar, Purchasing an Instrument, Ryan Casperson 30.11.2009 Comments Off on Guitar Buyer’s Guide

    Sweetwater is our preferred musical instrument seller. They have a top-notch sales, competitive prices, and reliable shipping times.


    As a beginner, or someone shopping for their first electric or acoustic guitar, there are several different categories to pick from.

    Which ever guitar you choose, make sure that…

    The strings aren’t really high off the fret board.  This is good. Twice this much space would be difficult to play.

    File:Guitare action.jpg

    It is comfortable to hold.  This Stratocaster design electric guitar is usually the most comfortable for beginners.

    $100 – $200

    Usually these guitars are smaller sized for smaller players. These guitars generally are not crafted to last for a lifetime. But if you are not sure whether or not you want to play for a lifetime, they can be a good way to test the waters. The Squire Mini Strat (SquireMiniStrat) is a good entry level model that gives the Fender feel without the Fender price. If you are looking for an acoustic guitar in this price range, Epiphone (EpiphoneAcoustic) and Yamaha (Yamaha Acoustic) have several quality instruments for the price. If you are confident that you (or who you are buying for) will play guitar longer than a few months, this range is generally not recommended.

    $150 – $300 – TOP PICK if you are NOT sure you will stick with it.

    In this category, Squire, Epiphone and Ibanez offer the best value. Most of these are full sized and can last the typical beginning student one to two years. The major factor to consider with this range is whether you want the Les Paul feel of the Epiphone Les Paul Special (EpiphoneLesPaulSpecial), the Stratocaster/Telecaster touches of the Squire Bullets (SquireBullet) or the rocker appeal of the Ibanez GRX series (Ibanez GRX).  For acoustic guitars, Epiphone (EpiphoneAcoustic) and Yamaha (YamahaAcoustic) have the best options for these prices.

    $350 to $750 – TOP PICK if you ARE SURE you will stick with it.

    These are our top recommendations for beginning students. It can be frustrating for a new player to practice hard and still not be able to get a good sound because their instrument is holding them back. The Fender Player Stratocaster is a quality guitar that can last a you a lifetime.  Epiphone Les Pauls (Epiphone Les Paul Standard) offer high quality instruments and feel extremely similar to their Gibson counterparts. Ibanez (Ibanez RGA) has become a very reliable brand and offers many guitars that have hard rockability and looks.  Fender (Fender Acoustic) and Epiphone (Epiphone Acoustic)  are the most popular in this range for acoustic guitars but if you are looking for something a bit more unique, Breedlove Guitars (Breedlove Acoustic) offer high quality acoustic guitars at a great value!

    $750 and Up!!

    At this point, the world is limitless with options. You can spend thousands of dollars on high end guitars with premier tone and playability but aren’t necessary at all for learning the instrument. Once you’ve been playing for a while, you will get a sense for what your dream guitar is. You don’t need to start with the best. When you are ready to rock stadiums, you’ll know what to get.

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about purchasing a guitar for yourself or your child.

  • Guitar 24.04.2009 Comments Off on Guitar Tablature Sources

    Guitar tablature (sheet music for guitarists in a simple and easy to learn diagram system).

    Check these sites for more info on how to read guitar tabs and also to find thousands of songs written in this easy to learn system!



  • Guitar 11.12.2006 Comments Off on Beginners – Acoustic or electric guitar?

    For most beginners, starting on an electric guitar gives you the best odds of success!

    We know this from decades of experience. Electric guitars have smaller strings that are easier to press down on.  The strings are also closer to the fingerboard so you don’t have to press as hard. The body of an electric guitar is smaller and thinner so that you can more easily see your fingers.  The neck is usually smaller in diameter so that makes it a little easier to play chords.

    There are times when starting on an acoustic guitar is the best choice.

    1. If you already own an acoustic guitar, go ahead and start lessons on it to make sure that guitar is the “right” instrument for you. Then if you stick with it you can reward yourself with an electric guitar after a few months of lessons.
    2. If you are an adult or large teen and you know you want to play acoustic guitar
      (because that is the sound you like).