• 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!

  • Buyers Guides, Drums, For Parents, Purchasing an Instrument, Ryan Casperson 31.01.2011 Comments Off on Drum Buyer’s Guide

    So you are looking to buy a set a drums but you don’t know what to get? If you’ve done an online search for drums, you’ve probably seen that there are thousands of parts and accessories! What’s the most important things to have first? We are here to help guide you through the basics.

    If you aren’t sure whether you want to invest in a full set, you can at least buy a practice pad.
    These are small pads that don’t make much noise, but let you get used to the feel of hitting a drum. Great for practicing drum rudiments and working on stick skills. Even if you have a full set already, this is a great, portable way to practice. The Vic Firth Single-Sided/Divided Practice Pad is a quality product. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Vic-Firth-Single-Sided-Divided-Practice-Pad-447607-i1139989.gc

    For younger drummers (age 4-8), a junior drum set is just what Dr. Rhythm ordered!
    Let’s face it, if your feet can’t reach the pedal you are going to have a hard time keeping a solid beat. While the junior sets are smaller and cheaper than the full sets, you can still expect to spend between $100 and $300 for a well made kit. Sound percussion has a great, low priced kit, and Ludwig offers a higher quality and more expensive set. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sound-Percussion-Deluxe-Jr–3-Piece-Drum-Set-108081902-i2556147.gc#customer-reviews

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ludwig-Junior-Outfit-Drum-Set-103999561-i1140093.gc

    For full sized kits, you’ll find that most are priced without the cymbals
    (and the cymbals are pretty important), so don’t be fooled by low prices on one given kit. One of the most economical sets is the Sound Percussion Pro 5-Piece (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sound-Percussion-Pro-5-Piece-Drum-Set-with-Chrome-Hardware-581099-i1455915.gc). While it may say Pro in the title, this isn’t really professional quality, but it has what you need to get drumming! For higher quality sets, turn to the names you can trust in percussion. Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig, Gretsch and DDrum. Expect a basic shell set (minus the cymbals) to cost between $300 and $700. Top quality sets will probably start at around $1000. It’s worth noting that putting new drum heads on a basic kit can dramatically improve its sound and only cost between $40 and $100.

    Cymbals (that usually aren’t included in the drum kits) are necessary!
    But you don’t need them all at once. A hi-hat is absolutely essential. What you’ll need is a hi-hat stand (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha-650-Hi-Hat-Cymbal-Stand-483425-i1421818.gc) and a hi-hat cymbal set (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sabian-sbr-Hi-Hats-424112-i1527815.gc). After that, you can start adding various types of crash and ride cymbals to complete your set. Sabian and Zildjian are both high quality cymbal makers.

    If you are concerned about noise in the house, electronic drums can save your sanity!
    Don’t get me wrong, if you need volume, you can plug into an electronic drum amp and bam! you are making serious noise. But for when you don’t need to be loud, you can put headphones on and lose yourself in a little drumming world. We prefer Roland electronic drums. Their quality seems to far surpass their competitors in this field. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Roland-TD-11K-S-V-Compact-Series-Electronic-V-Drum-Kit-H82854-i2468066.gc

    Hopefully this has answered some questions for you. Good luck on your drum buying journey. Remember, your drum teacher is a great resource for ideas as well! Happy Drumming from 4/4 School of Music!

  • 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.

    image

    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: http://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: http://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:  http://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:   http://tascam.com/product/cd-gt2/

    Have fun and practice hard!

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

    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.

    $70 – $100

    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 (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Squier-Mini-Strat-Electric-Guitar-102091261-i1146335.gc) 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 (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-DR-100-Acoustic-Guitar-101392025-i1150077.gc) and Yamaha (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha-F335-Acoustic-Guitar-102919487-i1166364.gc) 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.

    $100 – $200 – 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 (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-Les-Paul-Special-II-Electric-Guitar-100161340-i1149983.gc), the Stratocaster touch of the Squire Bullet (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Squier-Bullet-Stratocaster-HSS-Electric-Guitar-with-Tremolo-105788061-i1502378.gc) or the rocker appeal of the Ibanez GRX series (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-GRX70QA-Electric-Guitar-107407850-i2075931.gc). For younger girls, Daisy Rocks (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Daisy-Rock-Debutante-Rock-Candy-Electric-Guitar-105778211-i1395727.gc) offers surprisingly good quality guitars in shades of pink. For acoustic guitars, Epiphone (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-AJ-100CE-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-107234684-i1150008.gc) and Yamaha (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha-FG700S-Folk-Acoustic-Guitar-103114252-i1149962.gc) 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. Fender offers their “Made in Mexico” (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-Standard-Stratocaster-Electric-Guitar-with-Maple-Fretboard-H76526-i2032186.gc) models in this range and what you get is a quality guitar that can last a lifetime if you want them to. (I have an MiM Strat that I’ve owned for 17years and still play!) Epiphone Les Pauls (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-Limited-Edition-Les-Paul-Traditional-PRO-Electric-Guitar-105939029-i1515777.gc) offer high quality instruments and feel extremely similar to their Gibson counterparts. Ibanez (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-Iron-Label-RGIR20E-Electric-Guitar-with-Tremolo-and-EMG-Pickups-108588534-i2824643.gc) has become a very reliable brand and offers many guitars that have hard rockability and looks.  Fender (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-DG200SCE-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-with-Rosewood-Back-and-Sides-106500697-i1709796.gc) and Epiphone (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-FT-350SCE-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-with-Min-Etune-J06077-i3609203.gc)  are the most popular in this range for acoustic guitars but if you are looking for something a bit more unique, Breedlove Guitars (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Breedlove-Pursuit-Concert-Ebony-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-110006178-i3449803.gc) 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 keyboard or digital piano for yourself or your child.