Before tackling this course, you should be comfortable with all the material from Episode 16 - How To Jam

Summary: We answer your questions

In this episode Andy and Thomas answer all of your questions from a recent Instagram post on Andy's channel. We talk theory, sight reading, bass guitar and much more!

Question 1: Do you guys play bass? (click to expand)

The quick answer is yes, they do play bass! Thomas actually started out as a bass player, and Andy picked it up because his basss player left the band! Andy is definitely more of a guitar player that plays bass like a guitar (with a pick and hitting root notes) whereas Thomas, having learnt bass first, has more of an understanding of the more unique way to play the instrument.

Question 2: Do you HAVE to learn sight reading? (click to expand)

The quick answer is no! Thanks to the fantastic technology we have all around us these days, as well as tab music and chord sheets, sight music just isn't as necessary as it was years ago. There are some things you can take from sheet music though, such as rhythm values, dynamics and understanding how the notes fit into the bar... But to be able to actually sit and sight read a whole piece of music just isn't that necessary. IMPORTANT: If you are aiming for a career as a session musician then sight reading is vital. We would say this is the only time you must have this string to your bow.

Question 3: Strat or Les Paul (click to expand)

Andy: Les Paul. Thomas: Strat! The Strat is generally a tad more versatile than the Les Paul, but at the end of the day it does come down to personal taste and the specific sound you are trying to create at the time.

Question 4: What's your favourite band? (click to expand)

Andy: The Darkness & Foo Fighters. Thomas: Steely Dan. It's great to hear both answers on this as it goes some way to explain their guitar playing styles. Andy definitely has that rock vibe and love of chunky riffs, whilst Thomas has that more crossover style to his playing.

Question 5: What's your favourite song to play? (click to expand)

For both guys it changes a lot, but Andy roots for High and Dry by Radiohead, and Thomas just loves any John Mayer tunes!

Question 6: How many guitars do you have and why? (click to expand)

Both Andy and Thomas have 7 guitars! They discussed the main reasons why they need 7, but at the end of the day each guitar can bring something different to your playing. Wether it's a Les Paul because of the rich sound with the hum-buckers, or a Strat for those crisp funk tones... or maybe even a hollow body because it makes you feel like a jazz player! Every guitar brings something different. As well as that, each player typically has an acoustic (or two) in their range of instruments.

Question 7: Is there an easier way to play the F barre chord? (click to expand)

Yes absolutely. There are a number of fingerings and shapes you can use before attempting the barre chord. None of these are 'worse' chords, they are all F major chords and they all work beautifully.

Question 8: How do I change chords without interrupting strumming? (click to expand)

The main thing to bare in mind here is that you can use the last beat or two of any bar to start moving the chord. For example, if you had a strumming pattern as shown below, you can use the "4 +" beat to lift the chord off and move to the next. In context of the song, when you speed it up, the open strings really won't be heard. You can also start to identify pivot fingers in your chord changes, for example, keeping the little finger down when changing between D and G major.

Question 9: What artist was most influential in your playing? (click to expand)

For Andy it was The Beatles, simply thanks to the classic Beatles songbooks that showed you how to play so many songs of theirs with simple chords. For Thomas, it was Hendrix all the way, especially once he had been learning for a little bit... Hendrix was the light!

Question 10: After open chords, what's next? (click to expand)

Well, firstly you need to make sure you can strum through an entire song, to the song, in open chords. Once you have that you have a few options, and we would actually recommend one of two courses. If you have an electric guitar and want to get to lead playing, take this course: lead Guitar Beginners Course. If you would prefer to continue your acoustic playing, take this course: Acoustic Beginners Level 2.

Question 11: Where to start with music theory? (click to expand)

To add to the suggestions both Andy and Thomas made, we would highly recommend tackling our Theory Lab courses. These will tell you everything you need to know about theory and how you can actually apply it to your own playing. Start with this course: Essential Theory and work from there. Remember that it is so important to learn rhythm theory as well, which is understanding bars and beats.

Question 12: Do I need to know theory to become a great player? (click to expand)

Yes, we would recommend an understanding of basic theory, and then more advanced as you progress, is integral to becoming a 'great' player. However, it is the actionable theory such as knowledge of rhythms, chords, keys and harmonisation over the idea of sight reading that is important. We would again link back to the course we recommended before to get you started: Essential Theory.

Question 13: What is a great way to practice your timing? (click to expand)

Timing is so important. Wether you are playing a riff, a lead part or an actual rhythm part, you need to play in time. We would of course recommend playing with a metronome or drum loop, but also trying to record yourself and hear yourself back. You could use Garage Band, or Logic or even a looper pedal as that will show up any slight timing issues.

Ready to move on? Remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

Episode 18 - The Theory You Need To Know

In this episode we discuss theory in a bit more detail, including information on diatonic chords, cadences and soloing within a key. Don't worry, there is nothing scary here!