Monthly Archives: September 2013

10 Mistakes Every Beginner Guitarist Makes

Beginner guitarists usually have a really hard time getting everything under their fingers. For the beginner guitarist, it’s all too easy to run into pitfalls, especially when you’re trying to learn guitar on your own. Know your mistakes and correct those, at the beginning and you’re set to go onto the right path toward playing guitar and sounding awesome. Here are some common mistakes we compiled to point out some potential stumbling blocks. Trying to avoid them will effectively improve your playing ability.

01. Wrong Practice: Do play what you already know before you work on new riffs and techniques.

02. Timing: Assuming that getting the notes and fingering right, is more important than the tempo/timing.  Timing is equally if not more important than getting the notes right.

03. Playing beyond one’s ability: You cannot expect to be able to shred out Steve Vai licks if you haven’t mastered Mary Had A Little Lamb, the nursery song. Don’t try to learn riffs at full speed.  Building muscle-memory requires slow repetition.  Get used to cycling riffs over and over at low speed until it becomes automatic.

04. Playing Alone: Learning in isolation can be at a total loss when it comes to performing or to playing with other people. Once you get a little comfortable with the instrument, seize every opportunity to interact with other musicians and with teachers. Play in front of people as often as possible.

05. Out of tune playing: Learning to tune is your first job as a budding guitarist, and you should tune your instrument every time you pick it up. If you are always playing a guitar that is out of tune, your ear never really gets to learn what each of the notes and chords should sound like.

06. Lost in effects: Effect pedals are fun but don’t think they’ll actually improve your playing. When you are learning, the amp doesn’t matter either. As long as you can hear yourself don’t worry about having a flashy amp or pedals.

07. Wrong Fingering: Moving the whole hand when you could just move your fingers is wasted movement. For example, using 3 fingers to play an open D chord when it can be played with 2. No buzzes, mutes or trail-offs.  Practice using just enough pressure to get a clear sound.  Finger position within the fret is also important.  Always use the lightest possible touch.

08. Choosing the wrong gear: Don’t go by what a guitar looks like or how much it costs. The best thing to do when going shopping for that first guitar is to bring someone who knows the ins and outs of guitar shopping.

09. Not warming up before playing: A five-minute warm up session before beginning your practice will magically improve your playing. Ever wondered why there are times when you pick up your guitar and cannot play something that you have played with ease before? The main reason is not warming up first.

10. Memorizing, but not applying:  You can memorize a ton of various riffs from other guitarists and play them all flawlessly. But most people don’t apply what they learned to their own playing.

The Unsung, Late Wings Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch

27 September 1979, the Scottish guitarist Jimmy McCulloch died from a heroin overdose in his flat in Maida Vale, London, aged 26. Member of Stone The Crows, Thunderclap Newman and Wings (1974 to 1977). When ‘Something in the Air’ by Thunderclap Newman went to No.1 in 1969, it made McCulloch the youngest guitarist to ever play on a UK No.1 single, as he was was just sixteen years old at the time. Best known for playing lead guitar in Paul McCartney’s Wings from 1974 to 1977, he succumbed at the tender age of 26 and has been mainly forgotten about in today’s day and age. McCulloch composed the music score of the anti-drug song “Medicine Jar” on Wings’ Venus and Mars album and the similar “Wino Junko” on the band’s Wings at the Speed of Sound album. He also sang both. Colin Allen, former drummer for Stone The Crows, wrote the lyrics of both songs.

Born in Dumbarton and raised in Clydebank and Cumbernauld, Scotland, McCulloch began to play the guitar at the age of 11 and at that age, he made his performance debut as the guitarist for The Jaygars, which was later known as One in a Million. One in a Million performed live in support of The Who during The Who’s tour of Scotland in 1967. By the time he was barely a teenager, he made the aforementioned stint in Thunderclap Newman, who were a band by proxy – they were friends of Pete Townshend (The Who). The band JimmyMcCulloughplayed for a few years until disbanding and McCullouch jumped ship to play with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. McCullouch then went to another blues band, Stone the Crows, replacing the original guitar player, who had died very eerily and Spinal Tap-like from electrocution on stage. After making some appearances on a John Entwistle (also from The Who) solo album, Wistle Rhymes, playing alongside Peter Frampton on a few tracks and soon after guesting on a Ron Harper solo release, he became employed in former Beatle Paul McCartney’s Wings in 1974 to massive success. He left that band a few years later and joined a reformed Small Faces line up for a small tour covering some of England. His last musical stints were low key releases.

McCulloch first rose to fame in 1969 when he joined Pete Townshend’s friends, Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman (piano) and songwriter John ‘Speedy’ Keen (vocals, drums), to form the band Thunderclap Newman. The band enjoyed a UK #1 hit with Something in the Air that year. Thanks to “Something In The Air”, McCulloch is the youngest person to date to have performed on a number one hit song in the U.K. Jimmy McCullouch’s style was decidedly blues, and that flashy, tasteful guitar style of his certainly anchored many of those aforementioned bands and projects. He is definitely an unsung figure in the annals of music and rock and roll history, hence this article, which is an attempt to bring back the name and presence of yet another tragic rock and roll figure for at least one day today, in these contemporary times. His playing is still heard on classic rock radio of course whenever some of those old Wings songs gets spun.