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Topics - TheBuddha

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Lessons / Triads (the basics)
« on: April 01, 2018, 04:18:16 PM »

By now, you’ve been playing for a while and you keep hearing this term, “Triads.” It sounds awfully fancy but let’s think about it for a moment.

I’m going to keep this pretty basic.

Remember that tricycle you rode as a child? How about a triangle? Well, “tri” means three and that’s exactly what triads means. It means chords made up of three notes. So, a Cmaj would be C, E, and G. A Cmin would be C, Eb, and G.

Fuck that noise.

A good rule of thumb is that a major triad is shaped like Emin, A, or D chord. You can barre or grand barre them – and they’re almost certainly a major triad.

What a minor triad? That’s easy. The Emin, Amin, or Dmin shapes would almost certainly be a minor triad. You can smash ’em around all across the fretboard and you’re probably playing a minor triad.

I say “probably” because someone’s likely to come along and point out that there’s a spot where that’s not technically true – but I don’t know of such a spot and I’m too lazy to stop and run through checking.

So, where do they fit?

Major triads go with the major scale and major pentatonic scales.

Minor triads fit with the natural minor scale (sometimes called the Aeolian scale), Dorian scale, Phrygian scale, and minor pentatonic scale.

Or, as I like to say, bang at it and if it doesn’t sound right then try the other one! They’re pretty handy little critters to know and understand. People like to make it more complicated than it really is – it’s not. You can make it complicated, but there’s no reason to.

Lessons / Arpeggios
« on: March 06, 2018, 11:54:22 AM »
Alright, kids. It’s time for another lesson with TheBuddha. We’re going to talk about arpeggios.

What are arpeggios and why should you care?

Well, if you’ve been playing guitar for any length of time, you’ve already come across them. Chances are, you already play them – and may not even know what they are. They are basically component parts of a chord.

Play a chord. Now, play the notes that make up that chord, one by one. That’s a basic arpeggio. No, a scale isn’t an arpeggio. A scale is a sequence of notes in a certain key. An arpeggio is a sequence of notes within a chord. Another name for the arpeggio is “broken chord.”

The word arpeggio comes from Italian. It means to play a harp. Yup, imagine a harpist playing one string at a time in succession, and you’ve got an arpeggio. The same theory applies. If it doesn’t sound right, you’re doing it wrong and you should try again. (We’re not big on formalities at this here establishment!)

Seriously, make a D chord and play the 3 2 1 strings, one at a time. There, you just played an arpeggio.

So, why should you know this?

They sound good – really. You’ll hear them in all sorts of music and you’ve been playing them for years without even knowing. I suppose they probably come from classical but they are found in rock, bluegrass, jazz, and probably a bunch of other genres.

They are much handier than just the subset of chords you might know. Learn a few basic arpeggio shapes and you’re good to go – you can play them in any key. I am not going to get into all the shapes and the progressions, ‘cause there are all sorts of resources for you to use just from searching. My goal is just to get you started.

To get started the rest of the way, this site has a really good write-up about arpeggios:

(I recommend learning the major and minor triad first. They’re the most approachable.)

If you’re in doubt, start with the root note and go from there. If you’re playing in G, start with a G. Try a few different ways to pick and try a few different styles – do a hammer on and a string bend. Trust me, just keep poking at it and it will eventually come to you. You’ll find your own little style inside the arpeggio world and you’ll be able to accompany anybody, especially another guitarist who’s doing chordal rhythms.

One final thing – don’t let the notes sustain. Lift as soon as you pick or in time with the duration. You don’t want them to run into each other and make a mess of things. That means you’re making a chord and not playing an arpeggio.

So, don’t let them scare you away. Don’t worry about the theory. Find a technique that sounds good to you and practice it until you’re happy. Find a few more techniques and truly enjoy yourself. The goal is to have fun. If you wanted mastery, you’d go to a good music school and not listen to some weirdo named TheBuddha.

This will be archived over at the forum when I get a minute.

Lessons / The differences between a classical and a flamenco guitar.
« on: March 03, 2018, 10:15:04 AM »

@RiverOfStars was mentioning that they liked flamenco and another user had mentioned wanting to hear some too. Today, I figured I'd sit down and work on that. It's really, really hard to change styles of music rapidly.

I dug out my favorite flamenco guitar last night and threw strings on it. Only, today, I realized that the action is much too high and the intonation is out. Rather than adjust the truss rod myself, I'm going to send it out to have it done. Can I do it myself? Absolutely. However, he can do it much faster and much better than I can. I've already called, I'm going to bring it down this weekend and I'll have it back in just a few days.

So, I sat here and practiced a bit on a classical guitar and I'm really, really not happy with the tone.

But, Buddha, aren't they all the same? The headstock looks the same, they're both strung with nylon, and they're both acoustic and made of wood!

Alas, no... Can I play flamenco on a classical? Yeah, pretty much. It doesn't sound right and, by now, you've probably noticed that I aim for perfection in my playing.

So, what's the difference?

I figured I'd write a little about that, as it seems that many people don't really know that there's even a difference.

Well, a flamenco guitar top is almost always made of spruce, with varied backs and sides - meant to be louder. The flamenco is also made of lighter (thinner) materials. This is one of the ways that the flamenco gets a brighter tone. Many factory-made classical guitars will now also have spruce tops but the good ones are often cedar and use materials like mahogany on the sides - giving added sustain.

There's also more than one type of flamenco guitar - but we'll get into that in a moment.

Classical guitars are deeper, which allows the sound waves to be longer. This gives the warm tones you get with a good classical guitar. The flamenco is meant to be bright. The type I was to play today is meant to stand out - it's meant to be played by itself, to accompany dancers or to perform solo. Thus, it's really 'bright' in tonality.

They both have the same type of headstock, usually tuning pegs that are pretty similar to what you'll see on a violin or other stringed instrument. This isn't actually a requirement and, near as I can tell, doesn't actually impact playability or sound. But, you can have a variation in styles in there.

A flamenco guitar will have a negative (or flat) neck profile before string tension is added. This makes the action fast. What do I mean by that? Well, the strings are closer to the frets and this means that there is a greater chance of buzzing. Flamenco players don't mind - it's a trade they make to have speedy action. A classical guitar will have greater distance between the fingerboard and the strings. This means that they can play cleaner - but must have greater finger dexterity to do so. This also means that "tapping" is easier on a flamenco guitar.

A flamenco guitar will have a see-through (usually) plastic piece covering the top. It's like a pick guard. It's called a golpeador and it protects the finish on a flamenco guitar 'cause we often use them like a percussion instrument. Basically, it's there so you can tap on the guitar's top and not worry about the finish and so that you can play with your fingernails facing the strings (brushing is a term many use for this technique) with great rapidity and not worry about ruining the guitar's finish.

Now, there are several types of flamenco guitar. A classical guitar is meant to be played solo (more often than not) but a flamenco is often meant to be bright. Why is it bright? It's meant to cut through the sound of dancers stomping their feet, yelling, and other instruments. Not all - there are some that aren't as bright and they're meant to play along with a band. Think of them as rhythm guitars for flamenco music and the one I wanted to play today is meant to be more like a lead guitar.

The attack on a classical guitar is soft and building to a full sound, a bit like an ensemble bringing itself to crescendo. A flamenco attack is fast and short, like stabbing with a dagger vs. the classical guitar's broadsword attack. (Analogies are not my strong suit.)

So, I'll try to get some decent sound out of this classical guitar. I do have other flamenco guitars (just a couple) but they're not really meant to be played as solo instruments. They're meant to accompany the guitar I wanted to play for you today. The guitar I wanted to play for you today is rather special and was handcrafted by a fella I've actually met. So, I am really hoping that you'll enjoy it - it's just going to be another week before we get to it.

The good news is that I'll have new recording equipment next week. I don't actually know what I'm doing with it - but it'll give me something to play with and, hopefully, give me more versatility. I'll be getting my guitar back from the shop AND getting a delivery of equipment, all in the same week! It'll be pretty exciting in this household.

So, I don't know if I'll have any flamenco out the door tonight. It's unlikely - but I'm going to try. If anything sounds acceptable, I'll put it up. Otherwise, it'll end up being next week.

Either way, I figured I'd explain the differences between these two wonderful styles of guitars. I think I covered the major differences.

Lessons / That's not a tremolo bar.
« on: March 03, 2018, 10:14:01 AM »
That thing on the side that you call a whammy bar? Yeah, it's not a tremolo bar.

Tremolo is done in your amplifier or, in some case, you have a tremolo pedal. Tremolo is a cyclic changing of volume or, if you want to be professional sounding, amplitude. It's usually reserved for rapid changing of volume. Turn your radio on and turn the volume down low and then back high as rapidly as you can. That's tremolo. It comes from a longer Latin word meaning to tremble.

Vibrato is a cyclic change of pitch. The whammy bar tightens and loosens the strings causing the pitch to change. Even there, it's technically supposed to be regular - and some people just stretch and release, with nary a cycle involved. I suppose it's just an unfinished cycle.

So, that funny looking stick you have on the side of your guitar? Yeah, it's not smart when someone aloofly refers to it as a "tremolo bar." You might just as well keep calling it a whammy bar. It's technically a vibrato bar, if it's to be called anything. (It's part of a vibrato system.)

Just call it a whammy bar.

Citations follow:

General Discussion / Category names?
« on: February 28, 2018, 05:08:41 PM »
Any additional category names you're interested in? This is meant to supplement the regular site, not to replace it. This is where lessons will be taking place.

Announcements / Weekly Guitar Thread at 20:00 Eastern
« on: February 28, 2018, 02:27:08 PM »
The Weekly Guitar Thread will open at 20:00 Eastern. There is no special theme and I should be announcing this at that point.

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