Tools Every Guitar Player Should Have

 

There are some tools every guitar player, or I might say every musician, should have, in addition to the instrument you play.

Metronome

A metronome will help you keep your timing steady. Particularly those of us who mainly play alone, tend to have very bad timing. If you want to play fast, a metronome is the main tool. Ask any of the speed-monsters. They have all spent hours and hours practising with their metronomes, gradually increasing their speed. You get them from small units you can put into your shirt pocket, to fairly large mechanical devices. I like the small ones that can be used with an ear-plug. Go to the metronome page for more metronomes.

Slow Downer

If you want to learn music from CDs, you will often have to slow the music down to be able to hear what they really are playing. Digital technology will let you reduce (or increase) the speed without altering the pitch. (Or you can alter the pitch without changing speed, or do both at the same time,)

You can also buy a CD-player, slow-downer and head-phone amp, all in one box. It is easier to carry, but cost more than the software solution.

Ear Training software

Nothing is more important to a musician than his or hers ears. Train them and keep them in good shape, and your music will benefit a lot. Software that will have you to identify musical elements by ear, will be of great help.

"Practising Band"

Get yourself your own band to practice with.

Tuner

You should always play in tune. The guitar should not only be in tune with itself, but be tuned to the right pitch. Unless you have perfect pitch, you need some kind of reference. In my opinion, you should be able to tune the guitar by ear, if you have one reference note. This is why I have listed a traditional tuning fork before a modern electronic tuner. For more tuners, go to the Tuner Page.

Multi function device

Many devices combine several functions. You have various combined metronomes and tuners. But one of my favorites is the Korg Pandora PX 4 It is a practising amp, guitar effects, metronome (and drum machine), tuner and it can record and play back as a loop up to 32 seconds and slow it down (I have the older PX 2, but I am looking for an excuse to buy the new PX 4). The PX 4 can also produce a bass line if you enter the key and the chords. This is primarily a device for electric guitar players, and there is no microphone for the tuner, meaning that it cannot be used for acoustic guitar unless it has a built in transducer/pick up.

Tools you need to use this site

You can play MIDI files with your web-browser. But for a musician, that is no good solution. You should have a player that will at least let you slow down the music. Sequencer programs like Cubase, Cubasis, Cakewalk and Power Tracks can of course play MIDI files, and you can do what you want with the files. But these programs are over-kill if you only want a player. From the description, the TaBazar player seems to be a good alternative for guitar-players. But I do not know the program, so I cannot give any opinion. Another player might be Sweet MIDI Player from Roni Music. (I use Power Tracks, but I am not sure if this is the sequence program I would have bought if I should buy one today. I would probably had chosen either Cubase or the special guitar version of Cakewalk).

Viewing Finale Files

There has been problems with the Finale files and the finale viewer. A new viewer is announced, but still not available. The viewer that is available work with some of the files, but not all, depending on the version I used when I made the files. You get the viewer by clicking the link above or in the last paragraph. But there is one other solution to the problem: Download the free Finale NotePad 2003. You find the link at Coda Music's Main Page. This is a "very light" version of Finale. The editing features are limited. But you can view and print all Finale files. Download the Finale files on my site, and open them in Finale NotePad 2003.

The music on this site is mainly presented as Finale Files. You must have the free Finale viewer installed to use these files. The player is a plug-in that works with Netscape and Internet Explorer. Finale files is the best way I have found to present music on the net. You can read them, print them and transpose them. And you can even play them as MIDI files to get an idea of how they should sound. But it is a computer playing the music exactly as written (with some added accents etc., and it will not produce very interesting interpretations or personal phrasing. (I have not made a major effort to make good MIDI files for playback ...)

Band In A Box player

I have also included some Band-In-A-Box files. Band-In-A-Box is a program that creates backing you can play to. You need a Band-In-A-Box player (it really is a demo, not a playerto play the files. You can download a free player from PG Music. (My understanding is that the Player let you do everything you can do with the real program, except saving your own files.) To be honest, the "viewer" did not work as I had expected: Users have to download and reinstall frequently, and you will not have the styles I prefer to use. So if you do not have Band-in-A-Box, the MIDI files might be a better alternative.

Printing the files

I am frequently asked about ways to print the lessons without having the right side cut off. I do not have a good answer to this, and I am afraid that it will be too much work to make separate "printer friendly" versions. At least I do not know how to do this in a simple way. But there are a few ways around the problem:

The most simple way is to choose landscape format when printing.

If you want the printout on a portrait oriented paper, you can copy the part you want to print from the screen, and paste it into Word or another word processor (I have only tested this with Word). The you will get everything, including graphics and links, and you can edit and resize if necessary.

If what you want is a print of the graphics (diagrams, tabs etc), you can rightclick on the picture and choose "Print Picture" from the menu.

The Finale files print very nicely if you have the viewer installed (and it works with the file ...). If you have Finale NotePad (see above) installed, you can download the finale file and open it in NotePad (I have to make the Finale files downloadable ...).

Tools I used to make the site

Chord diagrams are made with standard graphics software, and some are made with Finale.

Finale is the NO 1 software for musical notation. It is a bit hard to learn, and it is not too intuitive. But you can do almost anything with it. You can enter music with the computer keyboard or with a MIDI instrument. You can also make MIDI files. For us guitar players, version 2003 have some very important new features: A much better handling of tablature. You can edit directly in the tablature. If you write in standard music (as I do), it is only one copy and paste operation to make the tablature. You can specify lowest fret (which can vary in various sections), capo position, tunings etc, and the program do the rest. What I usually do is to enter the music from a MIDI keyboard (You can use a MIDI guitar if you have one, but unfortunately I don't ...). The rest are a few simple operations. There is a new Guitar version that will give you everything you need to write guitar music, at a much lower price than the full version.

The musical examples where I play are recorded using Power Tracks, and the sound is edited with WaveLab. (Some recordings are done in a studio long time ago.) MIDI backing tracks are made with Band In a Box.