Category Archives: Guitars

Best guitar travel photos on Pinterest

The sun is setting. He leaves the house with nothing but a guitar, the clothes on his back, and a tousled mop of hair. Off into the fading light…

Where would your guitar adventure take you?

As inspiration for your next musical sojourn, I’ve browsed Pinterest to find the most picturesque pins featuring guitars and travel. What mode of transport would you take?

  1. The standard guitar stroll
  2. Make your guitar fly… and then swim?
  3. Make a guitar with car parts. Also here.
  4. Like a bridge over troubled water
  5. Just you, your guitar, and a picnic rug
  6. Take the train
  7. By moped
  8. Walk along the train tracks
  9. Take a car ride

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How guitars work

Have you ever looked at an electric guitar and wondered how it produced those mysterious sounds? When people first take up guitar the anatomy of the instrument can be confusing. It is important to understand the parts of a guitar and how they produce the sounds we hear to learn, play or build a guitar.

The strings of a guitar stretch up from their lower fixing on the bridge and bend up over a raised piece called a saddle. From here the strings are suspended along the neck, which is divided into frets designated by glued metal lines perpendicular to the strings. At the top of the neck the strings are wound by pegs on the guitar head. Strings vibrate once they are plucked or strummed. The note that is produced depends on the length, tension, weight, and springiness of the string.

On an acoustic guitar these vibrations cause changes in surrounding air pressure (soundwaves). The front section is called the soundboard and has a distinctive hole in (the soundhole). The shape of the guitar’s body affects its tone (the frequency of the soundwaves). Soundwaves are amplified at the back of the guitar’s body (the soundboard), and emerge from the sound hole and through the air as audible sound.

For electric guitars there is no hole and the body of the guitar is solid. String vibrations are detected by an electromagnetic pickups (bar magnets over a wire coil), sending a signal down a wire that is made audible by an electronic amplifier. (The same principle is applied by electric pickups used to amplify sound from acoustic guitars.)

There are also completely electric midi guitars like the You Rock Guitar. I’ve watched various Youtube videos of these, and I was not impressed. Acoustic and electric guitars are handcrafted wooden instruments. No synthesised alternative has come close. Perhaps I’ll continue this rant in a future post…for now enjoy the sounds made by your acoustic and electric guitars y’all!

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How to make a guitar

Do you like figuring out how things function and working with your hands? Fancy a project making or modifying a musical instrument? Here are some links that get into the nitty gritty of how to build your own instrument and how guitar components work:

Basic guitars (good to make with a child?)
How to make a shoebox guitar
Tin Can Guitar

Electric guitars
Instructables
WikiHow

Acoustic guitars (warning: advanced skills required!)
Acoustic Guitar Build Blog
Build Your Guitar

Customise your guitar
Mojo Shout

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Buying a guitar? Seven things you must consider

At this time of year lots of people are buying Christmas presents. If you’re thinking of buying a guitar as a surprise present for someone special then DON’T. Instead take them on a surprise shopping trip or buy them a gift voucher for a local guitar store. Guitar players will know and feel what’s right, and even if the recipient is a complete beginner they should have a say before any purchase is made.

  1. Style over substance? It is worth spending lots of money on a guitar that looks a certain way when you can probably buy something that looks less assuming but sounds better?
  2. Wood. You may find a maple neck easier to move up and down on a fretwood than rosewood. This preference depends on your playing style.
  3. Pickup configuration. A strat style guitar with regular pickups is more suited to blues, jazz and rock, whereas something like a Les Paul or SG with humbucker pickups is more suited to heavier styles of music.
  4. SCREECH! If you want to sound like Steve Vai, Van Halen, or White Snake then you’ll need a guitar like an Ibanez with a floating tremolo to make the guitar screech.
  5. Weight. If you’re going to be standing playing your guitar for hours on end with it hanging around your neck.
  6. Secondhand guitars. You can make them feel new by getting the guitar setup, buying a fretboard cleaner, and putting on a fresh set of strings.
  7. Haggling You’re already spending a lot of money on a new guitar, see if you can get good accessories like cables, a case, or a guitar strap thrown in or heavily discounted.

The most important thing

Does the guitar feel right to you? Before you go to a guitar shop do your research about different makes and designs. Avoid the temptation to just order online – you need to play one first, in the same way that you wouldn’t buy a car before test driving the same model. When you get to the store pick up a guitar that looks right and play a variety of things on it. Test it out on a rig that’s similar to the one you have at home. Even if it feels perfect make sure you then try at least four other guitars in the shop to compare it with, including a type you might not have considered. You need to try a range of guitars before making your decision.

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Guitar makers and importers near Raleigh

I’ve previously covered guitar shops and repair services in the Raleigh area, but what if you want to order a bespoke handmade guitar? These guitar makers might be just what you’re looking for:

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Help, my guitar is broken!

Many guitar shops offer repair services or sell protective cases for your instrument, but there are some businesses here in Raleigh that specialise in repairing damaged guitars. They might also be able to build or replace a part.

Some, like Jeffrey Earle, specialise in building beautiful custom guitars – see also here.

For repair of electronic accessories like guitar or bass amps see the Mad Science Works.

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Guitar shops in Raleigh

Here are shops in Raleigh NC that stock guitars, accessories, and music. Some also offer lessons and repair services:

Harry’s Guitar Shop, Downtown (Glenwood Ave)
Guru Guitars, Hillsborough St
Falls River Music, Wake Forest (Raven Ridge Rd)
Sam Ash Guitars, Capital Blvd
Guitar Center Raleigh, Capital Blvd
Darren Riley’s Guitar and Amp Shop, Capital Blvd

Elsewhere in the Triangle:

, downtown Durham

Prefer to buy online? Support the NC economy by buying local:

Locals, Davis Drive, Apex NC
Mojo Shout, Burgaw NC
Tony’s Guitars, Wilmington NC
Dream Guitars, Weaverville NC

Find ad hoc (mainly secondhand) vendors on Craigslist.

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