Thursday, December 15, 2011


Tour guide David Gloier weighs in this week. It's all him from here on out.
Well, I've been too busy to actually get any time in with Rocksmith for the past three weeks, but thought I'd at least show up and give out a few bits of advice for those of you just getting underway with your guitar careers. Again, this is all my opinion and your mileage may vary.

First, I'd recommend getting your guitars properly set-up. The difference between a properly set-up guitar and one that isn't is night and day. Chances are many of you bought an inexpensive guitar to start with and it likely could use a little help in this department. Find a luthier in your area and get it done, or do it yourself. If you don't know where to find a luthier, start at your local guitar store and ask them. They may have someone or they can recommend someone. It shouldn't cost you more than $40 or $50 and it's money well spent. A basic set-up shouldn't take too long and I've had guys let me watch what they were doing so I could learn. If you want to learn on your own, I'd recommend picking up a copy of this book:
How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great

It's full of invaluable information. If you're going to play, you should know the ins and outs of your instrument. This will help you. If nothing else, learn to properly change your strings. It needs to be done and if you are putting in serious time with your guitar, it likely needs to be done regularly.

Next, even though we'd all like to be rock stars and play with our guitars slung low, I'd recommend getting yourself a comfortable stool and playing Rocksmith sitting down. Sitting puts the guitar in the proper position and it will make learning easier and will put a lot less strain on your hands and wrists. Playing with the guitar down around your waist is a different beast altogether and you might want to learn what you're doing before you start imitating your rock idols. I have a basic, wooden bar stool I picked up at Wal-Mart for $20. It does the trick. Anyway, if you're going to put in long stretches of time in with your guitar and Rocksmith, you might as well be comfortable.

Get a strap and some strap locks. You don't want to drop your new investment and, if you decide to channel your inner Jimmy Page, you don't want to have the thing pop off the strap and fall to the floor. I use the Dunlop strap locks, but several brands are out there. You will have to replace the existing strap buttons on your guitar, but that is simple enough. Just Google "replacing strap locks." You'll find write-ups and videos to guide you through the process. Locks should only set you back about $15. Or, you can go the MacGyver route and buy a six-pack of Grolsch beer. After you finish the first two, remove the rubber gaskets from the locking bottle tops and place them over the button where it comes through the strap hole. Like so:

You get security and a buzz. You can't beat it, and honestly, they work really, really well. I have a friend that gigs with these as his locks after I showed it to him and he's happy with with the security they provide. They should be more than secure enough for sitting around the house playing.

Buy a tuner. The tuner in the game isn't very accurate and it pays to be in tune. You can spend a bunch of money on a tuner pedal, but I've been more than happy with my little clip-on Snark. You can get them for around $10 on Amazon or $20 in the stores. They are surprisingly accurate and really easy to use. They just clip on to your headstock and use the vibration to tune. They are perfect for doing a quick tune. I think Bill will vouch for the usefulness of the Snark.

In order to protect your guitar when you aren't playing, I'd recommend getting a case, a stand, or a wall hanger. If you have pets or children, get a case or a wall hanger. I have pets and prefer wall hangers. They also allow your guitar to double as wall art. Plus, if your guitar is out and visible, you're more likely to play it. Trust me on this. If you plan on leaving the house with your guitar, get a case as well. I'm not a fan of soft gig bags. They're cheaper than hard cases, but hard cases are cheaper than repairing or replacing a broken guitar.

Play away from the game. Get to know your instrument. Just fool around and see where it takes you. If you don't have an amp, look into getting a little practice amp. It's easier to get five or ten minutes in and you avoid the load times. (Well, if it's a tube amp, you do need to let it warm up a bit.) Some inexpensive modeling amps are available that let you play with different sounds without paying a bunch of money.

Finally, if you have the opportunity, play with others. It can be daunting when you're just a newbie, but the rewards are worth it. You'll pick up and learn a lot of things you wouldn't otherwise. Anyway, everybody has been where you are at some point and they all understand. Fellow guitarist love to give advice, and some of it is good. ;-)

Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying their new hobby. Hopefully, the payoffs are better than the frustrations.

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