wolfe audio™ Music blog

5 Reasons to Learn Music Theory 

 

Five good reasons why music theory is a must if you expect to perfect your musical talent. 


If you thought music theory was a waste of time and not necessary to further your musical goals, then read these following 5 reasons why this is not true. 

1. Read sheet music: Being able to play from any piece of sheet music. Well it may be hard to play BUT you can read it! 

2. Be able to transpose: Say you are playing a piece from the sheet music you can now read but you think it sounds too high or too low, or just not right. Well now you can move it into a new key and play at a better singing. 

3. Be able to modulate: You will be able to, with a few quick moves of the fingers, move your music into a new key with a succession of notes so pleasing to the ear it will bring a smile to your listeners faces. 

4. It will increase your skill in improvising: Enough said. 

5. Knowing music theory will help you recreate the sounds you enjoy in your favorite songs. Those fabulous chord progressions. The parts that give a song that certain sound. Gospel, Contemporary, Pop, Country etc. 

To learn music theory you don't have to become a scholar on the subject. Just at least learn the basics. Getting a good music theory book and spending a few minutes a day reading from it and doing any included exercises can jump start your music playing.

7 Tips for Effective Musical Practice 

The quality of your practice is much more important than the quantity. The old saying "practice makes perfect" is only true if the practice itself is perfect. Here are 7 tips to help make your practice more effective and efficient.  

Practice motions slowly  

The muscular memory of our bodies allows us to physically carry out patterns of motion with little or no conscious involvement. Examples of muscular memory include walking, riding a bicycle, typing, and of course playing a musical instrument.  

In order to develop this memory, the muscles require training in the form of repeated conscious guidance from the mind. First the mind must learn the pattern. Then the mind must "teach" the pattern to the muscles.  

The mind initially must control all the motions of the muscles. The more controlled and precise the motions, the more quickly the muscles will develop muscle memory.  

Slow practice also allows the mind to teach "antagonistic muscles" to relax. Antagonistic muscles are those that move in opposite directions. By relaxing antagonistic muscles you can reduce tension and facilitate faster and easier performance and avoid potential injury.  

Practice in small cells  

A "practice cell" is simply a finite series of motions. Musical cells can correspond to anything from a few notes to an entire work. When practicing, it is important to practice small cells of just a few notes. Practicing small cells limits the amount of information the muscles have to learn at one time. It also facilitates the mind's focus and concentration. 

3 Critical Truths About P2P File Sharing Networks 

If you're confused about file sharing networks,  and the hazards involved, you're not alone. 

Many people looking for for free downloading networks online have unanswered questions about p2p sites and RIAA lawsuit risks.  So here are crucial facts and important information you need to know about p2p file sharing sites - before using them! 

- File Sharing Download Truth #1:  File sharing networks are extremely controversial. 

Although file sharing applications have been ruled legal in a court of law, controversy lies in the fact that file sharing software can be used illegally. How? Anytime a user of a p2p software program downloads or shares copy-righted material they are breaking the law.  

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is on an active campaign to track down and sue file sharers who are breaking copy right infringement laws. And in more recent developments, the RIAA has sent letters to p2p networks demanding them to "immediately cease-and-desist from enabling and inducing the infringement of RIAA member sound recordings."  

The RIAA is very serious about finding and suing people who are breaking copy-right infringement laws. It's strongly advised to take the lawsuit risks very seriously yourself BEFORE using a free file sharing download site.  

- File Sharing Download Truth #2:  The only way to get 100% legal music is with the "legitimately licensed" music sites. 

It's true. Legitimately licensed sites are Internet-based services that provide downloads of music legally licensed from established record labels and the artists themselves.  

This combined partnership between the music industry and the legal music sites, (like Napster, iTunes & Emusic) guarantees you 100% legal music downloads.  In comparison, when using p2p file sharing software it's almost (if not completely) impossible to stay legal while using the file sharing program. Why?  

Legal file sharing is only possible by following and complying with ALL relevant copyright laws. This means that when using a file sharing application, in order to stay legal, you must never publicly share, reproduce or distribute copy-righted material - ever!  

Therefore, the only way to stay safe and avoid being targeted by the RIAA is by researching the copyright laws for each and every song BEFORE you download and/or publicly share the song online.   Besides the fact that this research would be extremely time-consuming, it's also virtually impossible to do successfully.  

- File Sharing Download Truth #3:  File sharing networks can threaten your online privacy and security. 

Although many file sharing applications are free, they make money by adding "adware" into the p2p software program.  

Adware is software that works by large media companies offering shareware developers banner ads to put in their products. In return, the media companies provide the software developers a portion of the revenue generated from the banner sales.  

And when done properly, adware is considered win-win. You'll get the file sharing software download for free, and the software developer will still get income for their product.  

However, many file sharing networks also include potentially dangerous spying programs into their software programs as a way to make more money. "Spyware" is a generic term describing any software that secretly sneaks around in the back-round of your computer (usually without your permission or knowledge) gathering information and performing activities hidden to you.  

Spyware is a big risk to your online security and privacy, and can cause serious damage to your computer by exposing you to dangerous viruses, worms, malware and online hackers.  Don't get me wrong, making money online is not a bad thing. However, many file sharing download programs fail to disclose critical information and lawsuit risks about the use of their sharing software programs.  

To Sum Up: 
  
It's extremely important that you get all the facts about file sharing networks, including the risks involved, before using a any p2p program. 

By learning all you can about how p2p file sharing download networks work, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which music download solution is right for you. And remember, there are many quality legal music sites available for you to choose from that offer cheap music downloads.

3 Steps to Playing Comfortably for a Crowd 

Most people are not comfortable performing in front people. When I say of performing, such as an instrument, or singing, or acting, I mean more than just knowing how to do well at your chosen craft, I mean doing it well and in front of people. Its the standing in front of people part that gets us every time. How many of us sing like a bird in the shower but then when people are watching we cannot carry a note. Here are three steps to start you on the road to comfort (never complete) when called on to shine. 

1. Don't neglect to practice. Whether you sing or play an instrument practice is the key to being relaxed. The more familiar you are with what you are performing, the less anxiety you will have about messing up. 

2. Don't back up. Piano teaches pass this on all the time. If you mess up in the middle, or any place in your piece, don't back up and repeat the offending passage. Keep going. Chances are your audience didn't even notice. 

3. Try not to be critical of your technical skill. Focus more on your overall performance. How does it sound as a whole? If you're a pianist and you worry during your piece about your fingering then you're ignoring the song and how it sounds. Worry about technicalities when you practice. Which should be often. 

With time playing in front of and for other people will come much easier. You'll be a natural. So use every opportunity to show your stuff!

3 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Music Lessons 

Whether you are using a book, video, a real live human, or online lessons, keep these pointers in mind in order to get the most out our your studies. 

1. Complete and master each section before moving on to the next: As you work through your studies make sure you have each new technique or idea conquered before moving on to the next. Lessons are planned to build upon each other and trying to rush through without fully understanding one will just lead to frustration and wasted efforts. 

2. Study as if you were in school. Do some homework every night. If all you have is 15 minutes then use those 15 minutes. If you don't have time to read/watch and apply then do the application of your last lesson or drills such as scales and chords. Reading/watching and not having the opportunity to apply immediately will usually mean you have to relearn your lesson. Take notes. Especially if you're watching a video or working with a human. Also don't be afraid to write all over your workbooks and sheet music. 

3. Apply what you've learned: Play for others. Your church, your family, that spare piano sitting in your favorite department store (ask first). Nothing drives a music lesson home better than a recital. It will also magnify what you need to work on. 

These tips work whether your a child or an adult. Learning to play an instrument is a wonderful activity.

Learn To Play Musical Instrument Sets 

We all have a few of those childhood dreams that fell to the wayside as we grew up. We were either too busy or too involved in something else or were too poor or just kept forgetting about it. It doesn't matter why we never learned to play the instruments that we wanted to, what matters is that now that we're adults, are we going to learn to play the musical instruments we dreamed of?  
     
While shopping for the musical instruments of our dreams, we keep running across the learn to play instruments and book sets. They look like they were probably designed for kids, but the instruments look like they are almost high quality enough to get away with playing. So can anyone really learn to play a musical instrument from the learn to play series?  
     
To be honest, those who learned to play at least one musical instrument as a child most likely can learn to play another musical instrument form the learn to play series provided we at least learned the basics of reading music. Being able to at least read the basic scale from sheet music will help tremendously when trying to learn to plat a musical instrument from a book. 
     
Some people do very well learning to play musical instruments from a book, but the people who do very well all have one thing in common, they are self learners. Those of us who were born in the mid to late seventies and beyond grew up in a system of education that everything was hand fed to us, thus the majority of us do not learn very well on our own. We need someone to hold our hands and teach us note by note to play a musical instrument, not to mention trying to learn other things. Learning to play a musical instrument from a book requires a certain amount of self teaching ability. 
     
Without the ability to figure things out along the way,î learning to play a musical instrument from a book will prove to be quite frustrating, although it can most certainly be done. If our desire is strong enough and our patience can run fairly deep, then yes, we can learn to play a musical instrument from a book. 
     
There are few things quite as satisfying as accomplishing something like the challenge of learning to play a musical instrument from a book. As we learn to play any musical instrument without the guidance of someone else, just like kids, our confidence grows. For adults, learning to play a musical instrument from a book may very well be the realization of a childhood dream, and there is nothing but pure magic in that.

5 Important Tips on Piano Lessons 

Must-Have information before deciding on piano lessons! 

Music is a very important part of our lives. It does a lot more than just please our ears it is an integral part of human development.   
Several years ago, there was an experiment done by scientists at the University of California at Irvine in 1993. (published in the journal Nature) They had college students listen to Mozart Sonata for two pianos in D Major, a relaxation tape or silence.  Immediately after these sessions, the students took a spatial reasoning test (the ability to put together puzzles) and the students scores improved drastically after listening to the Music. The reason is because music and spatial abilities share the same pathways in the brain. 

Another experiment was done later on by researchers at Appalachian State University and the researchers were successful as well in connecting music to boosting brain power. 
They gave preschool children (ages 3-4 yrs. old) training for 8 months. Children were divided into 4 groups: keyboard lessons, singing lessons, computer lessons and Nno lessons.  After 8 months of this treatment, the children were tested on their ability to put together puzzles (spatial-temporal reasoning) and to recognize shapes (spatial-recognition reasoning) and the results were astounding!  They found that only those children who had taken the keyboard lessons had improvement in the spatial-temporal test. (The children did not, however show any change with the spatial-recognition.) 

Another interesting observation I've made is the connection between the medical profession and the music profession a large majority of MD's are classically trained musicians! I've encountered many and have asked them all the same question how do you make the connection between the medical and the musical and the response I've had is that they are both very intricate and require a rare focus and mathematical mindset in many different directions at once. It's achieved by many years of training in either and/or both fields, which by the same token - enhance each other.  So to them the similarity in brain function and focus is evident and invaluable to both the medical and the musical. It will be interesting to see the results of further study in that matter. Currently, there is no conclusive proof scientifically of the connection between medical and musical. 

Now for the 5 Tips for Piano Lessons! 

1) Interest: 
 Assess the interest of your child. Is this something they really like ñ or is it your dream? The child should show genuine interest in music and a keyboard in order for their learning experience to be a pleasant and successful one. If they are not interested ask yourself why you even pursued it? Is it because you have an inner desire for it? It's NEVER too late to begin! Sign yourself up for piano lessons if that's the case. I've have students of every age ñ some played when they were kids then quit. As they got older, regretted quitting and vowed to one day pick it up again. Then there are others who always had the desire but not the opportunity and now find themselves retired with plenty of time on their hands. They've actually become piano virtuosos! I give you these lovely examples to give you hope and a nudge (psssst! It's never too late)!  The student must be genuinely interested. 
2) Instrument: 
It's fine to begin piano lessons on an electronic keyboard.  As time goes on, the student will know in which direction they'd like to take the piano lessons. If it's just for personal enjoyment, it's fine to stay with a keyboard. 
If it's for classical piano training  then the student should be switched over to an acoustic piano. In my experience as a piano teacher, I've realized that a spinet piano (the ones that have a low back) unless it is given as a gift, should not be purchased. It would be preferable to purchase an upright, which is a baby grand piano, but instead of the strings being vertical they're horizontal. The reason being, that the action on the keys is much better technically for the student is hand, and it sound substantially better to the ear. 
3) Teacher: 
Ask around and get feedback from others about their teachers. Find out the teacher is background. Where did they get the education from, how long have they been teaching, where do they teach from, what are the surroundings like? Ask current students how patient the teacher is and how do they feel during the lesson. You should get a pretty good idea about the teacher by how current students are progressing. Does the teacher is personality blend with your child is. Remember, this is a choice! In school the children have to adapt to the teacher that has been assigned to them, and that is a good thing. They learn to get along with different types of personalities, but Piano is an extra-curricular activity and should be a pleasant one that they look forward to.  
4) Schedule: 
Children can be easily overwhelmed by too much in their schedule. As adults we've experienced overload for ourselves and it is SO counterproductive! It is highly advisable to limit activities in order for the kids not to be pulled in too many directions. 
Once activities have been chosen, I've found with my own kids and students that by writing down a daily schedule, everything gets done and there are no excuses for forgetting to practice.  
5) Dedication: 
Once a schedule is in place, practicing piano will become part of daily routine. After a while, the student won't be so worried about time, but will want to achieve goals set by the teacher. The student will need dedication in order for the craft to go from mechanical to musical. Encourage them to listen to a wide range of styles and genre is in order for them to develop their own taste for music. At an early stage, dedication can be ingrained in a student by participating in recitals, talent shows and worship Services. It takes diligence and dedication  also sacrifices to make piano a beautiful craft.

25 Music Jobs That Most People Don't Know About 

You may have heard that music jobs are almost impossible to find, especially if you're young and just starting out. While it may be true that few aspiring musicians will reach the top of the charts, there are hundreds of thousands of music jobs available. Some are for performers, some for teachers, and some for support staff for musicians and performers. Musicians and others in the music industry may work in production, performance, promotion, and education - even medicine. I promised you 25 music jobs that most people don't know about - but that's not technically true. Many of these are jobs that people know about - but don't consider when they think of 'music jobs'. Ready for the list? Here we go: 

Music Jobs for Songwriters: 

  • A Staff Songwriter works for a record or media company and writes songs for the artists signed by the label. 
  • A Freelance Songwriter writes and markets his or her own songs. Your hours are your own, but you'll have to work a lot of them to get your songs heard. 
  • A Lyricist writes just the words to songs. He may team up with a composer, or be teamed up with one by a music production company. 
  • A Jingle Writer writes those catchy ads that you hear on the television and radio - you know, the ones that get stuck in your head for days. A jingle writer may not become a famous household name - but he or she will always find work. 

Music Jobs in Publishing: 

  • A Music Publisher finds and acquires the copyrights to songs with the intent of licensing or selling them to record companies and musicians. 
  • A Copyright/Licensing Administrator ($20,000 - $60,000) manages the licensing and copyrights for a music publishing company. 
  • A Music Editor ($20,000 - $60,000) works closely with the composer to document, organize and time cues for the musicians in a project. 
  • A Note setter ($15,000 - $50,000) transcribes music from audio to the page. 

Music Jobs in the Record Business: 

  • An A&R Coordinator (artist and repertoire) finds talent for a record company to sign. His boss is the A&R Administrator, a position that includes planning budgets for artists, managing reps and coordinators and monitoring the expenses on production. 
  • Public Relations music jobs range from assistant publicist to director of public relations. The PR department is responsible for getting the names of the artists on a record company label out in front of the public often. Pay ranges from nothing for an intern to three figures for highly experienced public relations managers. 
  • An Artist's Relations Representative is responsible for maintaining communication and cooperation between the record company and an artist or band. 
  • A Promotional staffer works with radio stations and video stations to get airplay for a label's records. 
  • Campus representatives are promotional agents - but they work directly to promote a record label's products to college students and music retailers. Working as a campus representative is a great way to get your foot in the door at a record label. 

Music Jobs in Education: 

  • A music teacher teaches music to classes from pre-school through college, with duties varying depending on the age of the classes. In the elementary grades, the music teacher may concentrate on teaching music appreciation and theory, with some teaching of instruments and performance theory. By high school, the job duties are more varied, and may include directing student performances and organizing and directing a band or choir. 
  • A Music Director or Supervisor is responsible for managing and setting policy for music instructors hired by the school department. 
  • Music Jobs in the Ministry may include part time work as an organist to full time work directing a professional choir and the entire music worship for a parish or citywide.

Jimi Hendrix is the #1 Rock and Roll Star of All Time 

I've been in rock and roll all my life and I admit it's bit difficult to put Jimi Hendrix above Mick Jagger in terms of brilliant rock and roll stardom, but after watching several movies of both Jimi and Mick in concert, here's why I would do it: 

1.    BEST MUSICIAN 

Jimi Hendrix was the only true genius in rock and roll. The word genius is highly overused and it's often applied to people who are extremely talented. I disagree with the dictionary when it equates genius with "exceptional intelligence", and what I think the word genius is supposed to refer to is a person who creates something that's new, and not only new, but significantly new, important, and somewhat of a milestone in human development. I call Albert Einstein the premier genius of the human race because the Theory of Relativity was a giant jump in the understanding of the way our universe operates and to this day, few people actually understand anything other than the bomb part. Jimi Hendrix was the genius of rock and roll because he was the only one who invented something new. It's almost impossible to do anything that's really new in the field of music because there are only eight notes in the Western scale so in a sense, all music is derivative. But Jimi invented guitar feedback and nobody before Jimi even thought about it. And Jimi took his invention one step farther. Until Jimi came along, all music since the time of Mozart and Beethoven has been built on chord structure and rock and roll music uses simple chord structure. Jimi actually used feedback alone to construct song structure in a few, but not all of his songs (i.e. Third Stone From the Sun). To this day, nobody has been able to do what Jimi did. In fact, Jeff Beck bought Jimi's strat at an auction and even the super talented Jeff admitted that he can't get the same sounds out of the very same guitar as Jimi got. With all due respect to Mick, he's a brilliant singer and one of the all time great rock and roll songwriters, but he's not actually a brilliant musician because he only plays rhythm guitar. I believe Mick would agree with me about Jimi being a genius guitar player because Mick was one of the first ones to discover Jimi when The Experience made their debut in the clubs of London. Along with John Lennon, Mick spread the word to the other British musicians about the new nova in the rock and roll sky. 

2.    BEST PERFORMER 

It's a tie between Jimi and Mick. Call it a dead heat with one survivor. If Elvis was still breathing he'd be breathing down both of their necks and I probably will get flack from a whole lot of people for saying that, and even more flack from the know-nothing fans of Madonna, Prince (whoever he is these days) and Michael Jackson (not to mention Roberta FLACK). Certainly Elvis came first and Elvis was The King, but Jimi and Mick both had their own unique styles and neither one were heavily influenced by Elvis in terms of their performances. Mick was influenced by James Brown's dancing and only God knows who influenced Jimi's performance style because he was truly an original. Besides, Elvis moved on to acting and he starred in tons of below average movies - and now I'll really get flack! Unfortunately I won't get Roberta. But seriously, Mick deserves an award for putting on a great show every single time he appears, he did that right from his debut as a young man, and he's continued to do that as an old man. Jimi died as a young man. Both of them were sex stars on stage as well as off stage but watching Jimi on stage is nothing short of breathtaking. He had all the moves, he had the body of a black Adonis, he played his guitar with his teeth, behind his back, under his leg, and when he set fire to it at the end of his shows, he got down on his knees and prayed to the Guitar God who obviously listened to him. He wasn't a dancer like Mick, he was a mover and a shaker of women's "G" spots. People standing in front of his stage all had the same astounded expression on their faces as if to say, "I can't believe this guy! What galaxy did he come from?" 

3.    SONGWRITING TALENT 

"And the Wind Cried Mary". Oh, Jimi, how poetic can you possibly be? So the galactic storm screamed "Jimi", and what hetero man in his right mind doesn't want that "Foxy Lady"? I suppose that a man who's in a "Purple Haze" might not be able to recognize one, and a man who's in a state of "Manic Depression" might not be able to get out of bed and do anything about it, but every time Jimi launches into Foxy Lady with his famous dissonant E chord my libido stands up and salutes. And every time I hear that all time classic feedback note in the middle of the song, it never fails to send shivers up my spine. Comparisons to other songwriters are superfluous. Jimi quite obviously wrote more than a few great rock and roll songs, he almost always had something important to say, and he always said it in a poetic way. 

4.    SINGING TALENT 

As a professional rock and roll singer, it's hats off time to Mick. Oh, I'll get big arguments about that but people who would argue the point don't understand rock and roll singing. It's not about range, power, or technical perfection. It's all about emotion and style. Mick knows how to sing without necessarily using words. Like Robert Plant, he often uses sounds alone to express emotions. A case in point is "Going Home" on the Aftermath album which consists of 11 minutes of Mick having sex with a microphone. Jimi Hendrix was actually embarrassed by his own singing because as a great musician, he recognized and understood the great singers. In the recording studio, he was the master of guitar but he recorded his vocals over and over and over again until he got something that he could just live with. But I put Jimi in the same class as Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. These are great artists who were all perfectly capable of putting across their own unique songs in a way that nobody else can. I'm not a fan of Dylan's voice and when The Byrds recorded Dylan songs, they did a good job but they lack Dylan's sarcasm and his almost bored feeling with his own poetic brilliance. I'm a big fan of Bob Marley and I like his voice, but I recognize that he's not a great singer. It just so happens that I love Jimi's voice. I hear Bob Dylan's influence and I know that Jimi was a fan of Bob's voice and of his lyrics. But Jimi did something very unusual vocally and in the theater, it's called an "aside". Jimi had a wonderful habit of flipping off little spoken phrases, very often interrupting himself while he was singing and it came off as being totally COOL. When it comes to singers, people either like them or they don't and all I can say is that as a professional singer, Jimi's voice works for me big time. 

5.    SEXUAL AURA 

Every rock star has it. Jimi had too much of it for one man. I'm wildly hetero but I'm wowed by the sexual aura that surrounds Jimi on film. I was lucky enough to see him one time in person and I can testify that he was as HOT as it's possible for a human being to be in the flesh. There are an uncountable number of women who would be quite willing to testify about Jimi's abilities in the bedroom. 

So in conclusion, it's not necessary to be a great musician to be a rock star, just like it's not necessary to be a great actor to be a movie star. This should be self evident and there are way too many examples in both fields to start listing them. But Jimi was a genius guitar player, a unique and atomically powerful performer, a great songwriter, a very good singer, a super nova sex star, and a world class personality on top of everything else. That's why I call Jimi Hendrix the Number One Rock Star of All Time.

A Guide to Buying an Acoustic Guitar 

Knowing how to choose the right guitar and how to identify a bad one, will save you from countless headaches, not to mention finger aches.  

Acoustic guitar bodies come in basically the same hourglass shape, with some variations, but they do vary in size, color, wood-type, style, and extra features. You can even buy an acoustic guitar so small that fits into a hiking backpack.  

Guitars come in a very wide range of prices, but when it comes to instruments, in general, you get what you pay for, especially when you buy new. There is a real difference between getting a bargain and buying cheap.  

But whether you buy new or used may be determined by many personal factors including your budget, and each has their own pros and cons.  

Buying new, gives you a warranty and, hopefully, a return period, if for some reason you're not totally satisfied with your purchase, or something goes wrong.  

Under usual circumstances, a used guitar can usually be purchased cheaper and has already gone through its break-in period.  

Commercially built guitars are usually mass manufactured. Custom-made guitars are exactly that. They are custom built and tailored to your specifications by a highly skilled guitar maker.  

Prices for a custom-built guitar vary considerably, depending on the skill level of the craftsperson you contract the job to, but, as a rule, they are generally quite higher than a commercially built guitar of similar quality. Each custom built guitar is unique and therefore hard to compare in price to a commercially built guitar.  

FOR THE "TECHIES"  

Understanding some of the parts of a guitar will definitely help you when it comes to the Pre-Purchase Checklist.  

BODY: This is the part with the sound hole in the front. It is where the strumming is done, and it can vary in size. The actual size, shape, type of wood, coating, and general build of the body also affects how the guitar will sound whether it's a rich and warm sound, or a thin and twangy sound. The body tends to be the part that also gets scratched, damaged, and generally banged-up the most.  

NECK: This is the long piece extending from the body and ends at the head of the guitar where the ëTuning heads are, also known as machine heads. The strings travel from the bridge on the body, across the sound hole, along the fret board, which is attached to the front-side of the neck, and finally arriving at the tuning heads where they are wrapped around tuning posts. The tuning heads are then turned by hand, which then turns the posts, making the strings tighter or looser, thus affecting their tuning. Necks tend to warp and twist if not looked after, or if the guitar is left propped against a heat source.  

BRIDGE: The Bridge is normally located on the front of the body, by the sound hole, and on the side of the hole opposite to the neck. The strings are usually fed through the bridge first before they cross the hole and travel up the neck to the tuning heads. The bridge is like an anchor-point for the strings. Metal bridges are best, but on most acoustics they are either hard plastic or wood. Bridges have a tendency to crack and split over a long period of time.  

FRET BOARD: The fret board is glued to the front of the neck. This is the part you press the strings onto to make chords or play individual notes. Because itís glued on separately, a fret board can be made of a wood that's different from the neck.  

The strings travel over the fret board and the distance they are above the fret board makes a difference to the playability of the guitar. If the strings are too far above the fret board, then they will be hard to press down, making the guitar hard to play.  

When a beginner plays a guitar, initially his or her fingertips are very soft and need to be hardened. A guitar with the strings too far above the fret board, also known as having a high action, will cause the player's fingers to hurt so much that they are likely to put the guitar away in discouragement and possibly stop playing altogether.  

STRINGS: Acoustic guitar strings, come in a wide variety of flavors. They can be made out of nylon, brass, steel, or a combination. Nylon strings are usually only found on Classical guitars and Student guitars, because they're easier on the fingertips. They have a rich, warm sound to them.  

Strings sets come in different weights or sizes. Strings that come from a package marked heavy are usually quite thick in size and sound beefy. Strings that are light, or extra light, are very thin and usually have a brighter sound to them, but are also quieter sounding than heavy strings.  

String choices are purely personal taste. Light strings are easier to press than heavy strings but also sound quite different. The more often strings are played, the dirtier they get. If a cloth isn't run over and under them, from time to time, the sound becomes very dull  

THE PRE-PURCHASE CHECKLIST  

  • Before you buy a used guitar, cost-compare against the price of a new one, unless the guitar is quite old. You could also compare its used price to other used prices by going to an online auction and either searching for the same or a similar guitar.  
  • Check the overall condition of the wood for cracks, scratches, splits, dents, chips, etc.  
  • Also check the lacquer finish for cracks and splits.  
  • Check the neck/fret board for warping and twisting. You can do this by holding the guitar flat on its back, with the sound hole facing upward. Bring the guitar up to eye-level, with the neck running away from you and the edge of the body almost touching your face. Let your eyesight skim across the front of the body and down the fret board. You should be able to see if the neck is twisted or bowing.  
  • Tune the guitar, or have the seller tune it for you.  
  • If you know how to play about five or six chords then play them. If you don't know how to play, ask the seller to play them for you. This check ensures that the neck of the guitar is not warped, even though you couldn't physically see it. If the neck is warped, and the guitar is properly tuned, then some of the chords will sound good, but others will sound as though the guitar is not tuned. If this happens, check the tuning again. If it persists, then don't buy the guitar.  
  • Check the bridge of the guitar. If it's made out of wood or plastic, make sure it's not cracked or splitting. The bridge needs to be rock-solid, as a lot of pressure is exerted on the bridge by the strings.  
  • Check the tuning heads. Do they turn easily, or are they very stiff and hard to turn. Even with the high tension of the strings, a quality guitar will have tuning heads that are fairly easy to turn.  
  • Check the action of the guitar. Are the strings a fair distance from the fret board? Are they easy or hard to press down at various points on the fret board?  
  • If you are buying the guitar for yourself, and you know how to play, even if you're a beginner, then play the guitar.  
  • How does it feel?  
  • Is it easy or hard to play?  
  • Can you fit your hand around the neck/fret board comfortably to play chords?  
  • Is the guitar a comfortable size and shape for your body? Is it easy to hold?  
  • If you plan to play standing up, ask for a guitar strap.  
  • Do you like the sound, the color, etc?  
  • If you don't play, have someone else play it for you so that you can judge what it sounds like.  

WHERE TO BUY  

Buying a guitar from a physical retail music store allows you to test drive the guitar and ask more questions up front. Buying online or from a catalog may bring you more cash savings.  

No matter where you buy your guitar, if you know what to look for, and spend a little extra effort in your search for that perfect guitar, not only will your fingers thank you, but also your ears, and all those who will come to join you around the campfire, or even go to see you in concert. Who knows?