View Full Version : Need a new guitar?

11-06-2003, 04:41 PM
I got my guitar at a pawn shop not long ago. You know, something cheap so I could learn and not spend too much money.

However, when I try to play the opening tunes from some of the tabs I've seen lately, my guitar sounds nothing like the song.

I've got one of those automatic tuners because my ear isn't accustomed to tuning yet, and everything is tuned perfectly.

The guitar just doesn't sound right.

Is it me, or the instrument? If it's me, what are the common reasons for such horrible sound?

11-06-2003, 04:45 PM
Just another possibility... could the tabs be wrong?


Someone with some skill try that one and see if it works properly.. it doesn't seem to be any good for me.

11-06-2003, 06:43 PM
Hey Jim, theres many reasons you may be experiencin this.
.1 all guitars sound different due to many reasons (wood, elecronics, strings)
.2 all guitarists sound different, even when they play the same guitar.
.3 The guitars you listen to might have effects which make them sound different
.4 amps, cords, picks and anything else you use colors the sound somehow.

hope this helps,

Bongo Boy
11-07-2003, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by Jim
when I try to play the opening tunes from some of the tabs I've seen lately, my guitar sounds nothing like the song.I'm trying to understand if you mean a) the tone or character of the sound isn't the same, or b) if you mean that when you play the tabbed notes they sound like the wrong notes.

Also, after you tune up with your electronic tuner, then do a simple sanity check using the 'manual' tuning method. Just in case you haven't seen this method (please forgive me if you have), here it is:

1. Fret string 6 at the 5th fret and pick strings 6 and 5 simultaneously. Should sound like one single tone.

2. Repeat by fretting #5 at the 5th fret, picking #5 and #4 at the same time.

3. Repeat with #4 and #3, fretting #4 at the 5th fret.

4. Do #3 and #2, fretting #3 at the 4th fret, and

5. Finally, do #2 and #1, fretting #2 at the 5th fret.

In every case you should what sounds very much like a single tone. You may hear a slow 'beat frequency' which is the difference in pitch between the two strings, but if you hear a very apparent nastiness, you've fretted wrong or you've tuned wrong.

Also, I compared the TAB you provided to two tabs uploaded to www.powertabs.net, and there seems to be very little resemblance. I just finished playing the two PowerTabs of this tune (about 80 bars, one is an acoustic version), and I think you may want to take a peek at them--especially since they include the music notation.

...seems like a really tough tune to me--I'm not sure I recognize it in these tabs either. This is one of those songs where I'm unable to find or follow a melody, let alone repeat it.

11-07-2003, 08:18 AM
Check the intonation

Doug McMullen
11-07-2003, 04:55 PM
Hey Jim,

As you are very new to guitar, (if I understood correctly) the problem could be any number of things, from the very obvious to the very subtle... for example, are you left handed and holding the guitar upside down for the way it is strung? Are you sure you are reading the tab correctly? Is the guitar strung properly... those are the kind of mistakes beginners can make... along with issues of proper intonation and so on.

You need to take the guitar to an at least moderately experienced friend, or perhaps a music shop and ask them if the guitar is playable as it is... the answer may range from no, this is a nylon string guitar and you've strung it with steel strings, backwards... or the answer may be "you need a set-up" (which is when a technician goes over the instrument and puts everything in order including intonation).

And as a beginner you may simply be playing dreadfully... touch affects sound, and there are aspects of rhythm which, when done less than crisply, sound downright spazzy. Have someone who knows how to play look at you playing.

Then there's your ears -- musicians hear music differently than non-musicians, really. It may take a while for you to get used to
how you sound, playing...

And finally, maybe the guitar is a lemon. Pawnshops are risky places to shop if you don't know the items you are buying and it sounds like you didn't have assistance.

Okay, even more finally... getting tab to sound right doesn't come over night... maybe everything with you the way you tune and play your guitar is fine and the tab is also ok -- not great but not ridiculously wrong either -- and you are just simply expecting too much of yourself, too soon.

You didn't really think you'd buy a pawnshop guitar, take it home, tune it up, pull out some tab, and sound like a pro by the end of the weekend, did you? If you were thinking like that... I'll wager you'll need to scale back your expectations quite a bit

I think most of the players on this site will back me up when I say -- guitar: it isn't as easy as it looks :-(

As far as the guitar is concerned...
Like I said... take the guitar to someone who can look it over for you... you don't need an expert... just someone to give a rough look at the guitar and the way you play it (and tune it) ... if something silly isn't going on (wrong strings, etc.) and the guitar isn't a total mess (warped neck etc. ) you probably need a "set-up" (which includes getting the intonation fixed) .


11-07-2003, 06:23 PM
Much thanks Doug. Before reading this post, I had indeed set aside some time to go to my local music shop. I'm going to ask a friend about the guitar and see what he suggests.

I don't expect to play like a pro my first week, but I'd like to know it was MY fault for that absolutely hideous noise coming from my guitar. ;)

11-07-2003, 08:41 PM
All right... went to the shop and got the strings replaced. The guitar rings much more clearly now :)

Also getting some lessons. I start some time next week and can't wait to get to it.

What should I do to better prepare myself until then?

11-08-2003, 04:59 AM
know as much of the basics as you can, since your using a tuner I'm assuming that you know your string names. If you'd like, depending on the predetermined curriculum, you should have a list of things you intend to learn. That way if the instructor doesn' t have a set idea of what he/she wants to teach you they can base it on that. Or that they can incorperate these things into their lesson plans.

come to the lesson with all needed materials. paper, pencil, lesson book GUITAR!

11-09-2003, 03:52 PM
Originally posted by Jim
What should I do to better prepare myself until then?
First of all, welcome on IBM :)
What kind of guitar have you picked ? An electric, acoustic, classical ?

As I've started only 6 months ago, I thought I could share some ideas about my beginners experience...

First thing, everything takes more time to learn on the guitar than in every other field I took a peak in my whole life. Time had to be reanalyzed for setting my "deadlines" in guitar playing. I mean I first thought : hey, seems easy, in 2 months I'll be able to play some nice songs. But after 2 months, I understood I'd never be able to play the songs I wanted before at least 1 year... So everything had to be scaled down, detailed, reanalyzed and such. Now I can proudly say I'm a much more patient man thanks to the guitar :)

Second thing, the quantity of information needed in order to learn to be a guitarist is simply infinite :)
At first it's very messy, coz you just can't get your way in all that information : music theory (big piece), guitar fretboard understanding, practice regimen, styles, techniques, songs, etc. After a few month, it should start to make more sense, after you understood basic harmony, start to grasp the ingeniousity of the fretboard and begin to define your guitar musical tastes (very important not to get lost in 25 styles at the same time). The wonderfull world of guitar then really opens its arms for you. I guess when you start learning guitar, you never imagine the lifetime journey it is...