Hello, dear readers! Today for a change I decided to use all my knowledge and experience in classical guitar field to share 10 important things that can be very useful. I have talked to so many people, who told me that they have tried or have picked up playing the guitar but the mistakes they make are so ridiculous that I decided to write this articles and lay out some basic life hacks that might be useful, if you want to start playing the guitar or are already doing that. Some of these might apply not only on classical guitars but on acoustic, too. So, let’s dive right in!
- Change the strings of your guitar in the evening. If you can change guitar strings on your own, do it in the evening when you have already finished practicing. Right after changing them, tune the guitar, play a little, tune it again and then put it to rest. Strings need some time to adjust to the tension and playing right away after changing them is kind of difficult because you will probably have to tune guitar every minute. Just let it rest and pick up in the morning.
- For classical guitars there two types of strings – work strings and concert strings. If you are a beginner, you probably don’t need to use concert strings yet because you’re only learning right now. But to those, who are already more or less performing, I will explain the difference between these two types of strings. Work strings, just like the name says, are meant for work and work only. Of course, you might play with them in a concert but don’t expect the most amazing sound. Work strings have to be changed every month or two, depending on how much you play. Concert strings, on the other hand, have an amazing sound, however they have shorter life. After some time they lose their full sound potential. Some concert strings sound good for about one week but others are meant just for one 2 hours long concert and then they are done.
- Don’t leave your instrument somewhere too cold or too hot. If you leave it somewhere hot, for example, near heater, the guitar might get too dry and it might cause it to develop cracks. That’s why you should buy a guitar humidifier for hot summers to avoid damage. It has a sponge inside that you make wet in water, then squeeze out all the spare water so it’s a little moist, then put back in the container and carefully insert between guitar strings above the hole. (There different models, not just the one I inserted as an example.) Also, one thing to remember – if you take a walk with instrument in the winter and the temperature is below zero (the lower, the more dangerous), don’t open the case as soon as you enter the room. It might cause the guitar to develop cracks because of sudden temperature change. Wait 5 – 10 minutes and only then take the guitar out.
- When changing strings, don’t take off all the old strings before putting on new ones. Same warning – guitar might develop cracks and if that happens, the sound won’t be the same. So be careful, no matter if you have a 150$ guitar or 2000$ guitar.
- Don’t put any stickers on your instrument or draw on it. Especially, if you are going to participate in a contest or play in a concert. That just looks cheap and is a bad taste. Sadly I’ve seen so many people do it and it looks terrible. Just don’t. It’s not cool, it just looks like you are kind of disrespecting your instrument.
- Do not put your guitar anywhere where it might fall, for example, support it against the chair. If it falls, you will end up with stack of firewood for your fireplace just because you didn’t think twice.
- Pay attention to your posture. I will show you two correct ways, how to sit while playing classical guitar and two incorrect ways. I know you want to look “cool” but there’s nothing cool about developing acute back pain.
- Don’t bother with tabs, that will lead you nowhere; learn notes instead. Playing every piece from tabs and not knowing notes consumes too much time. Also, if you want to be a decent player, learn notes. Tabs won’t be that great in a long run. Start with learning which free string is which note and go from there.
- Cut nails of your left hand and grow nails of your right hand. This is kind of controversial fact for both – girls and boys because girls usually like to have long nails but boys want to keep them short. I remember when I first told my friends that boys, who play classical guitar have long right hand nails, they exchanged confused looks and giggled. It might seem weird because “it doesn’t look cool or right” but if you have long left hand nails, you’ll have trouble pressing down strings and if you have short right hand nails, you will have trouble playing with lively, bold and beautiful sound.
- Your fingers will hurt at the beginning – it’s normal. A lot of beginners complain that their fingers (especially fingers of a left hand) hurt when they are playing. No worries – it’s part of the process and after practicing consistently for a while it will go away because the skin will simply get thicker.
So that’s all for the most basic advice in starting out as a classical guitarist. There are lots and lots of other things I know, and I could write a book about them but this is not a classical guitar or music related blog, so I will keep that knowledge for myself… Unless you really want me to write another post about some guitar life hacks or go in-depth in some of the things I already mentioned in this post. If you do, let me know in the comments!
Love, Porcelain Doll.