Learn­ing Zone

Lessons from the world’s great­est teach­ers and schools...

Guitar Techniques - - LEARN­ING ZONE -

Ev­ery issue of Gui­tar Tech­niques brims with a wealth of lessons filled with tech­nique tips and the­ory ad­vice for all lev­els. What we don’t cover much is some­thing that should be high­lighted as it af­fects ev­ery player, re­gard­less of abil­ity or stylis­tic per­sua­sion: action (string to fret­board dis­tance) and string gauge. They are bound to­gether by the fact they will make your play­ing eas­ier if you’re on the right tracks or much harder if not. They’re both top­ics that are big­ger than my di­a­logue here al­lows but it is some­thing you 100% need to ad­dress at some point (or in­deed at some points) on your road of de­vel­op­ment.

Let me pro­vide an ex­am­ple: I had a student many years ago that was in awe of Yng­wie Malm­steen, not least due to his abil­ity to per­form big string bends from the first string’s 21st fret up to a vir­tual 24th. My student liked a set of 0.012s with a very low action and couldn’t get close to those string bends. I sug­gested he get closer to the mighty

Eb Yng’s setup: tun­ing (= re­duced string ten­sion than in E tun­ing), su­per light string gauge (top E string is .008 = re­duced string ten­sion), a medium high action (= great for fin­ger pur­chase to hike a string bend up), and a scal­loped fret­board (= even more room to grab a string). Other than the scal­loped fret­board op­tion (a scal­loped fret­board can prove in­to­na­tion havoc if one’s fret­ting hand touch is too heavy), my student saw the po­ten­tial in this setup and af­ter sev­eral months of cat wail­ing, his bends and vi­brato were sound­ing pretty impressive (he’s now on .009 gauge for a lit­tle more string ‘fight’). It just goes to show that a well set up gui­tar can ul­ti­mately mean what you thought was hard to play can end up being much more ap­proach­able when the gui­tar works well for you (and vice versa if poorly setup). We’re all in­di­vid­u­als and pref­er­ences vary greatly, but don’t get down-hearted if your play­ing is struggling; con­sider get­ting your gui­tar sorted and then reap the play­ing re­wards. En­joy the issue!

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