Taming the Guitar

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The electric guitar is almost a universal symbol of kick-ass rockstardom, but…errr…does anyone know how to switch this thing on? We’ve got something for everyone this month, whether you’re into laid-back rock or screaming guitar solos. Here’s more about the electric guitar, its history and what to do with it…

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A Timeline of the Electric Guitar

1935 – Gibson Guitar Corporation releases the first commercial ‘electric’ guitar, the E-150 lapsteel.

1940 – Les Paul comes up with his design for ‘The Log’, the first solid-body guitar, by sawing the sides off a hollow-body guitar and attaching these to a railroad log.

1951 – Rocket 88, a song by Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, becomes the first to use distortion when guitarist Willie Kizart plays through a damaged amp – yes, that guitar crunch was invented by accident!

1951 – Fender releases their version of the solid-body electric guitar, the Telecaster, for the first time.

1952 – Gibson follows up with the hugely successful Gibson Les Paul, which Les Paul himself preferred in its Goldtop paint finish.

1954 – Fender releases the Stratocaster, one of the most copied guitar shapes of all-time.

1965 – The first solid-state guitar amplifier (as opposed to valve – ask your parents about valves!) is released: The Kay Vanguard 704, produced by Kay Musical Instruments.

1967 – Guitarist Jimi Hendrix makes guitar history by setting fire to his Fender during a gig at Finsbury Park Astonia on March 31.

Guitar Guitar Taming the Guitar Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

 SA’s Top Five Picks

  • Dan Patlansky is a well-known veteran of the SA blues scene, and his albums have been rated some of the best blues-rock in the world.
  • Albert Frost has been well acquainted with strings and things from a very young age, forming part of – among others – the Blues Broers.
  • Guy Buttery is one of the guitarists, and has shared the stage with some of the guitarists on this list, too: YouTube is your friend!
  • Jimmy Dludlu was in love with the guitar from the age of thirteen, and has been making other people fall in love with his smooth jazz ever since.
  • Seether’s Shaun Morgan might be playing the world stage now, but let’s not forget that he was born in South Africa on the 21st of December 1978, which makes Seether – originally Saron Gas – proudly South African.
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Jimmy Dludlu, okmusic.jp

Guitar Playing: The Basics

Tuning: Guitars are generally tuned to Standard (or E) tuning. That’s E-A-D-G-B-E from the thickest string down. Other tunings include Drop D, Drop C and Eb.

Pressing Down: Press a note down just behind the fret – oh, that’s the little silver bars on the neck. You’re looking for a clear, crisp note with no vibration. Practice.

Chords: Chords are three notes or more played together. Look up chord diagrams to see where your fingers should go – C, Am, G and F are four good starting chords and can turn into thousands of songs.

Power Chords: Power Chords are the building blocks of rock music; they consist of the root note of a chord and the fifth.

Guitar Guitar Taming the Guitar MG 0156
Power Chords

Tablature: Tablature or ‘tab’ is the guitarists’ shorthand for noting down songs and solo’s. If you can read tablature, you don’t have to know traditional music theory to find your way around a song just yet. Simply, the lines are the strings, the numbers are which frets to press. Sounds okay, right? Good!

Guitar Guitar Taming the Guitar skyfall adele solo fingerstyle acoustic guitar free tab

Guitar Care: A guitar bag or hardcase is a good investment. Always wipe your strings before and after playing. Take it to a reputable local guitar shop for restringing and setting up until you’ve learned how.

 By: Alex J. Coyne


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