Don''t let technology cause you to miss out on the real-life connections that make you a better player
Over the past decade we’ve seen a radical shift in the way we communicate. Because the world is online and with high speed Internet, Wi-Fi and 3G, we have more ways than ever to send and receive information. This has brought about some serious changes. We’ve seen the concept of going to a record store and buying a CD (record, tape, 8 track!) nearly erased and replaced with iTunes and other online means. We’ve watched eBay and Craigslist grow up and allow us to buy guitars we’ve never even played with just a picture and description. All of this is fantastic, and don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for anything. However, with our growing ability to compartmentalize our lives and access all of this goodness from the convenience of our laptop or iPhone, it brings up the fact that we don’t have the human element present as much as we used to. Sure, most of us go to work or school and interact, but since we have this other world available to us, we could easily miss out on some of that great stuff that only people can make happen.
The Guitar Instructor
YouTube, tabs, online lessons, DVDs, etc. are all fantastic ways to get your learn on, and they’re far more accurate than what was available when I was growing up. I’ve talked about it before but back when I was learning there was very little tab or information out there so we had two choices: learn it ourselves or go to a guitar teacher. With the latter something happened that cannot occur with one-sided learning—interaction! One of the great benefits of going to a good guitar instructor is that he or she can give you immediate feedback on what you’re doing right and what you are doing wrong. On my first guitar lesson when I was 12 all I wanted to do was learn “Eruption.” Well, I wasn’t quite at Van Halen’s level at that point so my teacher (Jim Bedford…thank you Jim) assessed what I was capable of at the time and worked out a compromise. He showed me the new (at the time) idea of tapping. Being it was on a single string and could easily be learned, he spent half of the lesson working with me and getting my hand position correct to be able to better practice it over the week. Had it just been written down or if I had watched a video I would have missed out on that personal training where he could correct me on the spot and help me not practice my mistakes.
Another excellent example of working with a teacher was while I was in college getting my degree in Classical Performance and Composition. My guitar instructor, Jim Bertram, spent a great deal of time working on my left hand. As a rock guitarist my hand tended to shift at an angle that worked great for electric guitar but created a lot of issues on a wide-neck nylon string classical guitar. He constantly would stop me and correct my hand position while checking my posture and ensuring I was focused on my technique. While I may have been able to do this with a mirror, I didn’t yet have the knowledge or discipline to catch and correct myself the way he did. Over time he also helped me by making me play a passage over and over again until it was right. My tendency was to play a piece, but to make a mistake here and there. When I got to a place where I was having trouble he would isolate the part and have me play it until it was correct. Then he would have me lead into the part and play through the old trouble spot until I could easily get through it from a bar or so ahead. It was this kind of help that really propelled my playing, and certainly not something I would have ever learned on my own.
All the practice in the world will only prepare you so much when it comes to playing with others. It’s one thing to be able to strap on your guitar (you do practice standing up don’t you?) and rip along with a CD in the comfort of your home but it’s entirely different to do this in an ensemble setting. While most of us have probably played in a number of bands there can always be more of it. In my early 20s I spent a good amount of time in a band that never once played a gig! We practiced and practiced to make sure we were good enough but the singer never felt that the time was right. Everything had to be perfect, and it sucked the life out of the band and eventually led me down a different path.
The truth of that situation is that while I learned to work in a band context it was only half of the equation. The other half was that playing in front of a live audience is where most of the good stuff comes from. At rehearsal you can stop, make changes and move on. Live shows give you one chance to make it through the song and the set. Of course any number of things can go wrong and it’s only the experience of going through it that can teach you how to be better prepared the next time something comes up. Not only that, but the feedback you receive from the crowd tells you what they like, and there’s nothing cooler than playing a gig to a rabid crowd! Once again this illustrates multiple levels of interaction with people, from the band to the audience, and all of the experience you gain and gain very quickly. It only took me one time of putting my guitar picks in my pocket to realize that that is no place for a guitar pick when you need one in the middle of a song!
The Guitar Store
I’ve bought and sold plenty of guitars online. Sometimes after reading a thread about a particular model or seeing an ad for one and reading the reviews I plunked down my money and had it shipped to me. Sometimes it was everything I’d hoped for while other times it was a disappointment. Most of the disappointment didn’t come from it not being built well, but from the fact that it just didn’t feel “right.” The only way to know 100 percent if a guitar, amp or pedal is right for you is to play it yourself. Ah the guitar store. We don’t have as many independent stores as we used to, but they still exist. And with Craigslist you can still locally check out a guitar at somebody’s place and see if it fits for you. I can’t overstate the nuance of things like neck shape and size, body weight, and aesthetics. While a guitar can look great in a picture it isn’t until you pull it out of the case and check it out that you’ll fully understand what you are dealing with. The other thing that’s really nice about the guitar store is that you can (hopefully) talk with somebody who knows something about the instrument and can point it out to you while you’re there. It happens less and less these days, but there are experts—even at the big box retail guitar stores.
These are only three examples of the human element and how it can be so enjoyable, helpful, and cathartic. While it’s true that we have many options available to us these days I think it’s important to understand how beneficial we are to each other. So next time you decide you want to buy a guitar or amp, maybe you could swing by the local shop and see what they have to offer. Or perhaps even if you’ve been playing for years it would be really cool to seek out a killer local instructor and take a few lessons. And finally, who ever picked up an instrument without the aspiration of being in a band? If you’ve been holed up in your bedroom “studio” a little too long maybe it’s time to head out to jam night at the bar down the street from your home. Tivo will make sure you don’t miss your favorite show! Just make sure you’re not a “Fiver” or “Niner.”—Joe Coffey knows what I’m talking about!
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.