Tomas here… the loser.
If you haven’t already guessed I lost the bet. I bet I could double my picking speed with my two fingers in 10 weeks. I got close… really close. But I still lost, and being the good sport that I am I’m appearing in front of all of you “au naturel”. Glad I could wear my hat 🙂
One principle of achieving goals is to create either a reward or consequence. It’s human nature to slack off and having either a stick or carrot helps. In general the stick usually works better than the carrot. My idea was that if I made a consequence that would be really embarrassing for me I would make the extra effort I needed. It was a good idea, but I just couldn’t do it in the time frame.
Here's what I learned from this experiment: Just because I failed to reach my goal doesn't mean I was not successful. In fact I made a 68% improvement. That's a significant improvement. In fact it’s the most improvement I’ve made in this one area in my entire life. I don't think I could've made that kind of improvement if I didn't set a goal with a consequence and really put my heart into it.
I intend to continue practicing and I'm pretty confident that I will eventually reach the goal that I set, even though I'm in a much better place already.
My Favorite Gadgets
I consider a metronome an essential tool for guitar students. There are many metronomes out there. I like the large traditional mechanical metronome because it’s easy to see. They have a couple of drawbacks. For one they don’t work well on anything but a level surface. Sometimes I like to practice sitting on my bed. They’re also kinda bulky, and on top of that you have to keep winding them.
Matrix MR-800 Metronome
That’s why I chose an electronic metronome as my first choice. The Matrix MR-800 has a beautiful, easy to see dial. It’s smaller than a mechanical metronome, making it portable. It’s not as elegant as a beautiful wood grained Wittner mechanical. Now that’s a piece of furniture! But I’m a guitarist. Portable and functional trumps, and by the way it’s also a heck of a lot less expensive.
One thing that can be said about the Matrix it is that it just works, and keeps working. No winding. No wobbling on uneven surfaces. And the battery just seems to last forever.
The two main features that I like are 1) the LEDs that swing back and forth giving that sense of motion that I like with a mechanical metronome, and 2) a clear (thought somewhat loud) clicking sound. In fact it's so loud I found that I prefer to put a small sticker over the speaker to soften it a little bit. I moved the sticker around until I get just the sound that I want. Too loud is better for me than not loud enough.
Here's a summary of its features:
A440 reference pitch
40-208 BPM tempo range
an earphone jack and earphone included
LED pendulum simulation
audible click upbeat sound with chime downbeat
and variable tone generation (for tuning the guitar in a pinch)
D’Addario Guitar Dock
I often find myself wanting to set my guitar against the table when I'm practicing. It's close and convenient. Unfortunately I'm just asking for the guitar to fall over at some point. Since I really like my guitars and they are kind of delicate I generally avoid it. I actually went so far as to make a little makeshift stand against the corner of one of my desks with paper towels and scotch tape. It actually works, but there was one problem. I can’t move it.
Enter this cool little device I've recently found called the Guitar Dock. I can attach this on many edges and it securely keeps my guitar in place. I've done some experimenting and found that the small door in my studio next to my recording equipment is a perfect place to put my guitar. The Guitar Dock works perfectly.
Who knows… I may just buy a few of them for various places in the house. One less excuse for practicing.
On the down side they’re not cheap. I’m guessing there will be less expensive knockoffs at some point, but D’Addario (same as Planet Waves) is a quality brand and I can usually count on their stuff working for a long time.
Korg Pitchclip Clip-on Chromatic Guitar Tuner
I have quite a few guitar tuners. I keep a clip on tuner on each of my guitars and a few extra desktop ones around the house and in my guitar case. I even have one in my iPhone as a backup. I do have a favorite however. It's the Korg Pitchclip.
This tuner is a chromatic tuner. That means it senses all the notes and lets me choose which one I want to tune to. It does mean you'll have to know the notes of the open strings. However, you won't have to worry about going too high without knowing if you’ve passed the note. That’s a problem with Guitar Tuners (as opposed to Chromatic Tuners) that only register the six strings of the guitar. I've had many students break guitar strings when they thought they were still too low, but in fact have already passed the note and they kept twisting the tuning key.
The Korg attaches easily to my guitar and has the ability to fold in and out. I like to fold it down when I'm practicing or playing so it's not in my face. It seems to register the notes easily and quickly. The large screen makes it easy to see for my not so great eyesight.
One issue I thought was a problem at first was that nickel sized little battery it uses. These small batteries are getting more and more common with small electronic devices. But it still was a hassle to have to go to Walgreens or CVS and buy a battery when I needed it. It seemed I could never remember the exact model number of the battery when I happen to be somewhere I could buy one, and there are several batteries that look the same.
I solved this problem by just ordering a dozen on eBay. I think they were only a few bucks for a dozen. Now I have them in a drawer and an extra one in my guitar case. Problem solved. I never have to worry about that again.
Compact, lightweight design makes this the ideal go-anywhere tuner
Highly sensitive for accurate tuning
Senses tuning based on your instrument's vibrations, so you don't need to plug in or even be able to hear yourself
Works on guitar, bass, and many other stringed instruments (Chromatic is good)
Uses CR2032 lithium battery
What do you think?
Do you have any favorite gadgets for guitar that you'd like to share with everyone? Let us know below and tell us what you like about it.
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