How To Practice

Posted on June 02, 2014 by Bryan Holst | 0 Comments

Written by Alan David Gould - Check out his website for this and other great articles that he has written!

There is a dramatic difference in the approach to practice between amateur and professional musicians.  Professionals, often because of time constraints, practice what they can’t yet play. This is a good habit to get into, even if time is not of the essence. Methodical practice of challenging techniques and difficult passages is the key to mastering any musical instrument.  Take these tips from the pros and significantly improve your practice technique.

Its part of what you do: Put the practice time into your schedule; otherwise, it’s going to get by you. You’ve got the time, but you’ve got to make the time.

Start small:  Everything can be reduced to single units of measure; when negotiating a difficult passage, take it apart.  Follow the order of practice ascension; mastery of single notes, then pairs of notes, then phrases, lines, sections, then finally the entire tune from beginning to end. Learning a tune is like constructing a building. Everything is based upon a solid foundation. This is a good model for learning any new skill.
Take notes:  Try not to make the same mistakes twice. Write down where your issues and problem areas are, so that you can go right back to those spots and continue to work on them. Spend your time working on the areas themselves; not stumbling around trying to find them. If you’re always hanging out in one place in your practice, staying within your comfort zone, your evolution is going to be difficult.  If you’re constantly breaking new ground, though the immediate rewards may not be apparent, improvement is inevitable.

Make a joyful noise: Don’t practice mindlessly, or halfheartedly. Try to get the best sound you can. Practicing on your own will help to give you the confidence you will need to eventually perform in front of people.  Of course, there’s no substitute for actual performance experience. But it’s easy to visualize a concert hall where you are performing for a choice audience and playing your heart out!  Create the illusion and eventually the illusion becomes a reality.

Practice what you can’t play: You already know what you know.

Posted in guitar, lesson, music, practice

The Bass VI: Bass or Baritone Guitar?

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Bryan Holst | 1 Comment

Written by (courtesy of Fender)


The Bass VI: Emphatically a bass guitar.
The Bass VI: Emphatically a bass guitar.

Bass guitar, for sure.

The Bass VI, recently resurrected in hot-rodded form by Fender and in its classic form by Squier, is a six-string bass guitar. It was designed and offered as a special kind of bass guitar during its original run from 1961 to 1975, and it is designed and offered as such today. It is not a baritone guitar.

Then what’s the difference between the Bass VI and a baritone guitar? If it isn’t a semantic matter of two names for the same thing—as some suppose—what distinguishes one from the other?

Baritone guitars are considered just that—guitars. They’re strung with guitar strings, and they have a scale length usually somewhere around 27”, which is between the standard scale lengths for a guitar (around 25”) and a bass guitar (usually 34”; around 30” for short-scale and 32” for medium-scale models). Baritone guitars almost never use standard guitar tuning (EADGBE). Rather, they’re usually tuned a fourth lower than a guitar (BEADF#B), with the fifth-string E matching the sixth-string low E on a standard guitar. Baritone guitars are sometimes tuned a fifth (ADGCEA) or even a major third lower (CFBbEbGC) than standard guitar tuning.

The current Fender and Squier Bass VI models are considered bass guitars, as was the Fender original. They’re strung with bass strings, albeit a special set made specifically for the model. They have a 30” scale length, like most short-scale basses, and they use standard tuning (EADGBE) one octave lower than a guitar.

You could use alternate tunings on the Bass VI if you wanted to, but that wouldn’t make it a baritone guitar; it’d just be, well, a Bass VI with another tuning. And the converse would be pointlessly impractical—slapping a set of bass strings on a baritone guitar probably isn’t going to work because bass strings will likely be too floppy on a 27”-scale instrument to be of any use, and the tuners would likely be too small to be able to accommodate bass guitar strings anyway.

So it really isn’t just a matter of semantics. As Fender has always intended and characterized its Bass VI, the terms “six-string bass guitar” and “baritone guitar” are not interchangeable. Although the differences might seem subtle to some, they’re definitely two different kinds of instruments.

In the few instances when Fender has offered true baritone electric guitars, they’ve been billed as just that; i.e., the Sub-Sonic Baritone Stratocaster of 2000-2002, the Jaguar Baritone Special HH of 2005-2010 and the Blacktop Telecaster Baritone of 2012-present. All three instruments have a 27” scale.

To reiterate, however, Bass VI models old and new are considered bass guitars and have always been billed as such by Fender.

Incidentally, the new Bass VI models don’t say “Bass VI” on the headstock. They say “Fender VI” and “Squier VI” on their headstocks, respectively. This is in keeping with the style of the original instrument, which said “Fender VI” on its headstock even though it was first billed in the 1961 Fender catalog as simply a “New Fender bass guitar” and as the “Bass VI guitar” and “Bass VI” in subsequent catalogs throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the 1970s.

Click here to see more details on the Bass VI

Posted in bass, fender, guitar, squier

Active vs Passive Pickups

Posted on January 14, 2014 by Steve Curwick | 1 Comment

Debating whether or not an electric instrument pickup is better than the other comes down to personal preference. Quality of a pickup however is generally universally accepted as being given to a company with many years of experience. Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, Bill Lawrence, Fender, Gibson, EMG, TV Jones and Lace Sensor are the most well known and respected pickup companies in the market. There is a reason that these companies are famous and it comes down to two things. Personal preference on sound and the quality and consistency of the pickup brand. Whether you are a serious player or an amateur, finding your own sound is as enjoyable and informative as finding your first guitar. Every pickup has its own flavor and every guitar bonds with a pickup in a different manor. Depending on how many pickups and what electronic controls will be attached to each pickup, you can have a plethora of sounds at your disposal or just one consistent tone. Whatever you are looking for in a sound, there isn't a pickup that won't help you on your way to achieving the sound in your head. This post will talk about the match up between an active pickup and a passive pickup and what are the benefits and negatives from each. Hopefully I will help you narrow down the sound you are looking for and give you some insight into the market of pickups. A passive pickup is a magnetic pickup directly sending the signal from your string, through the wood, into the pickup and into the amp which creates the most dynamic, organic sound you can produce. Many artists prefer a passive pickup to be able to have a "breathable" sound coupled with using their volume knob enables a multitude of tones without adjusting gain or treble on the amp. The negative aspects however with a passive pickup are it's feedback especially when gain from the amplifier is introduced as well as a magnetic pull on the strings which can cause intonation problems that reduces the sustain of the guitar overall. A single coil pickup found on stratocasters and telecasters generally produce a large amount of feedback and hum which is why the humbucker was invented to increase power over a single coil sound and to dampen noise feedback in the process. Jeff Beck, Darrell Abbott, Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix are prime examples of passive pickup users. An active pickup is powered by a separate battery stored on the guitar enabling higher output and overall balanced frequency. Many artists who are looking for a consistent sound such as in metal music use Active pickups to achieve a powerful and consistent tone without compromising quality. Player's like Kirk Hammett and Kerry King use active electronics which enable them to push their amps near their limits and still retain a tight and focused clarity in their sound. The negatives of this style of pickup is the need to replace the 9v battery when the power supply is fading as well as being sterile in sound by critiques around the pickup community. An active pickup will generally sound the same no matter if the guitar is of solid body, semi hollow body, string through or with a vibrato bridge but generally speaking, a maple neck and alder body will always produce a higher and more percussive sound than a mahogany guitar. So why is there a debate over pickups at all? It all boils down to preference as I was saying before. Pickups are just one part of the chain that links your guitar to your amp and eventually the sound coming to your ears. My advice is to try out an active pickup and passive pickup in similar built guitars and to shape your own opinion on the debate. Find out the different makes of each type of pickup through your local music store and build an wall of sound that defines the player and personality that is you.

courtesy of

So what is YOUR preference and why?

Posted in active, guitar, passive, pickups