Guitar Has Arrived

Music numpty to Rock God

The blog of Alan Dolby and how I am learning to play the electric guitar all the way from zero to Rock God (in my dreams!)

Week2 – the guitar has arrived and now to tune it !

The first thing to note was that there was no instruction manual that came with the guitar. I am so used to receiving some electronic gadget that comes with a four page instruction booklet that is subjected to a single read then slid into the nearest recycling vessel. There were more controls on the guitar than I was expecting i.e more than zero!

Firstly there are three rotary controls marked as volume, tone & tone (so good they named it twice). I guessed the first, the other two are either for the high notes or the low notes. Then there is the 5-way blade control. A quick strum with the fingers in each position didn’t seem to make any difference to my ear. I have had to admit defeat and succumbed to Google it. My first assumptions were wrong “On a three-knob setup as on a Stratocaster, there are two tone knobs, one for the neck pickup, and one for the middle and bridge pickups, and one volume control to modify all three.” The 5-way blade switch selects the pickup outputs in this fashion:

Position 1: Bridge pickup only. (nearest to bottom)
Position 2: Bridge pickup and middle pickup together.
Position 3: Middle pickup only.
Position 4. Middle pickup and neck pickup together.
Position 5: Neck pickup only. (closest to guitar neck)

This diagram, from Fender, makes it a little bit clearer but still not sure what the effects actually are.

I am sure more will be revealed once I get more into the hang of the thing.

Also found online “The tremolo bar, sometimes called the whammy bar, allows the guitarist to easily alter the pitch or all strings, up or down… slowly or quickly. It’s easy to identify: it’s a thin silver bar attached just below the saddle of the guitar, and normally hangs just below your strumming hand”. Not all guitars have one but my one does. Pradeep says don’t bother and take it off you won’t need it ever again!

What do all those strings do!

Another Google reveals EADGBE going from the thickest string to the thinnest or you can simply remember Eat All Day, Go to Bed Early. Right then I will!

Next day and Tuning the guitar

Now I know what strings are supposed to be, I need to do some twanging to get it in tune. Add on the clip-on tuner and the thick E was nearly already on tune. A slight tweak and it was bang on. I thought this is easy, I’ll try the next. 1 hour later and 5 of the 6 were in tune. The middle ‘D’ or ‘Day’ took another hour to get sorted even with the Fender smartphone app as an additional guide. I then took the unprecedented step (for a beginner) to loosen all of the strings then retune the lot again just in case I was lucky the first time around. A further hour and I was bang on tune again, with a little more practice I reckon I could get this down to a sensible time.

Another top tip I picked up from a guitar friend of Katie the hasher was to pull all of the strings away from the guitar body which will then stretch them and stop them going out of tune so quickly and make it easier the next time around to tune it back up again. This was one bit of advice I didn’t take as I was so so scared of breaking a string. Maybe later after I have had the pain of retuning a few times I will take the advice and pluck up the courage.

Having a guitar with a floating ‘bridge’ (for the ‘whammy bar’ also apparently makes things worse to tune which I can understand being an engineer. If the bridge (the shiny bit that holds the strings in place) can move then the tension of the strings will change and then affect the tune.

Also in the news…..

The guitar cover was a bit thin and the handle on one of the Zips broke the second time I used it so not that impressed by it.

The pick I chose from my assorted set had a thickness of 0.6mm but it is just personal taste what suits you best. I may change my mind at some point later.

My thoughts are now graduating towards what I am going to do with this here guitar so I checked out YouTube and amongst all the hairy monsters and people telling you what to do I found this chap at https://youtu.be4xLcRQcUY3k

He doesn’t look or for that matter sound very inspiring but Simon Smith has had 1.1million views so he can’t be all that bad. More on how I got on next week.

To cap the end of the week, Mandy, the RadioWey PR gury conjured up this photo and shared it on facebook. Oh I wish I had hair like that now. The pic also fooled my brother who thought it was a picture from way back when!

One of the comments on the post was from Kayte at the Chertsey Music community. She has written me into the programme in November for the gradathon – gulp!!!!

I expect I will be playing all the right strings but not necessarily in the right order – Alan Dolby