31/03/06 Permalink

This simple Java application will run on all MIDP2 compliant devices and basically helps you tune your guitar by playing the correct note for each string. You can select standard tuning (E,A,D,G,B,E) down to 2 notes down-tuned (C,G,Eb,Bb,F,C).

The strings on the guitar need to be tuned to enable you to play music. (Well, that's not strictly true, you can tune the strings to whatever notes you want but you'll get some rubbish sounds when trying to play chords.) The standard notes to tune each string to are EADGBE (Figure 1). You can also down tune the strings so if you down tune by one note the strings would then be DGCFAD.

To actually tune the strings turn the machineheads clockwise or anti-clockwise and be careful not to tighten them too much or else they'll snap and it'll be another trip to the music shop. Always start at the top low E string and work your way down. If you've got a tuner, keep tweaking the string until the tuner settles on the correct note. Don't worry if it wavers a bit - you'll rarely get it exact and even if you do it will probably change slightly due to changing temperatures believe it or not. If you leave a guitar near a radiator it will become slightly detuned. It's not noticable though.

Play the strings one by one and get used to the sound of the strings. One good tip is to learn a popular riff which uses all the strings and if this sounds ok then it's tuned.

You also up tune the guitar by tightening the strings. This method can also by achieved simply by utilising a capo. A capo is fitted tightly across the fretboard on a particular note to achieve a higher set of notes. More on the capo in another section.

You can get GuitarTuner here.

A bit more on Guitars..

There are 2 basic types of guitar which you may wish to buy - acoustic and electric and I'll some up both of them in this section. If you're starting to learn the guitar and wondering which one to choose it is probably a good idea to start with a basic 6 string acoustic because:

  • Beginner's acoustics are generally cheaper and you won't need an amplifier to hear your music.
  • Acoustics are better for playing the basic open chords because the top of the fretboard is usually wider. A wider fretboard makes it harder to strike the wrong string.
If you really want an electric guitar though, it really won't make a great difference in learning. Remember to buy a full size if you're buying over the internet or by mail, because some retailers sell smaller junior guitars.

So you've got your guitar now. Right, now you need to buy some other equipment. A guitar tuner would be a wise purchase if you are not experienced in music because it will listen to notes played on your guitar and actually tell you if it is tuned. Tuning a guitar is fundamental to playing it, because even if one string is slightly out of tune it can effect the whole sound of the guitar. Secondly, a plectrum would be a good buy. A plectrum is a small piece of thin plastic about the size of a large coin that you can use to pick strings or strum chords. You can use just your fingers to play the guitar but I would recommend starting with a plectrum because it is easier. Plectrums don't cost much so it isn't a wasted investment if you decide to start playing with your fingers. But remember where you put your plectrum! It's so easy to lose - putting it between the strings at the top of the guitar is usually a good place.

Once you've purchased your equipment, you'll probably want to dive right in and master the riff to Hotel California. Unfortunately this isn't possible straight away as there are basics you need to know first. You don't need to know traditional music notation with treble clefs and all to be able to play guitar because there's an easier and newer way to learn guitar music - guitar tabulature. Using guitar tabulature you use numbers on 6 lines representing strings. The numbers represent on which fret you should put your finger. Guitar tabulature can be used for rhythm guitar and lead guitar.

And have a look at this cool gadget by Yann Lohier:

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