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Polyphia's Tim Henson Answers Guitar Questions From Twitter

Polyphia's Tim Henson answers the internet's burning questions about guitar playing. How do you get a great guitar tone? Are expensive guitars a scam? What is a boomer bend? Why are barre chords so hard to play? How did Tim write 'Playing God'? Tim answers all these questions and much, much more! Check out Tim and Polyphia's YouTube channels: Director: Justin Wolfson Director of Photography: Constantine Economides Editor: Ron Douglas Expert: Tim Henson Line Producer: Joseph Buscemi Associate Producer: Brandon White Production Manager: Eric Martinez Production Coordinator: Fernando Davila Casting Producer: Nicole Ford Camera Operator: Rahil Ashruff Gaffer: Rebecca Van Der Meulen Audio: Gabe Quiroga Production Assistant: Patrick Sargent Post Production Supervisor: Alexa Deutsch Post Production Coordinator: Ian Bryant Supervising Editor: Doug Larsen Assistant Editor: Justin Symonds

Released on 02/28/2023


[rock music]

I'm Tim Henson

and I'm here today to answer your questions from Twitter.

This is Guitar Support.

[rock music]

QueenT4y asks, Why are bar chords so hard?

For a lot of beginners bar cords are difficult

because you have to kind of place

[guitar rock music]

one finger across the entire fretboard.

For some that's just a weird movement,

and really you're kind of hitting it

on the side of your finger versus like the the pad.

So if you can hit

[rock music]

and play all of those notes cleanly,

then you'll be able to get a nice sparkboard.

[rock music]

Premier Guitar asks, What's a riff that sounds easy,

but is actually hard to play?

John Mayer's Neon.

Doesn't sound that difficult,

and then you watch him play it,

he's just got his thumb stretched all the way up here

and it's incredible.

So he frets the root of the chords with his thumb,

and then plays like just regular chords

that you would normally do all the way up there.

So it's just truly a difficult thing to play,

especially if you do not have large hands.

from pedrocgallardo, What the [bleep] are Boomer bends?

Boomer bends is a term coined by Rick Beato and I.

It describes a very specific guitar bending lick

commonly used in music from the '60s and '70s,

The age of the Baby Boomer.

[rock guitar music]

The more twang you give it,

and the more like old guy you make it sound, [laughs]

the more Boomer it is I suppose.

But we didn't make that term in an offensive way.

It was more so just like it starts with a B,

and bend starts with a B.

So it became a catchy phrase in that way,

and I think a lot of Baby Boomers got upset at that term,

but that's all right because it's just a way

to describe a sound.

playGuitar_Bass asks What makes a great guitar solo?

For me, how memorable the solo is,

and if you can sing the solo.

For example, I think the guitar solo

from Bohemian Rhapsody

is one of the best guitar solos of all time.

[rock guitar music] [wordless vocalizing]

If you can sing with it, it's more memorable

than just a bunch of notes scattered.

schonebaby asks, Can someone send me

a good guitar lesson vid on finger tapping?

We can over finger tapping right now.

It's one of the easier flashier techniques,

which is fun because it doesn't take a lot of effort

starting on the fifth fret

and the eighth fret of the B string,

and then 12 with your right hand.

And the way that you fret these notes,

need to be in the middle of the fret

in order to get a clean note.

Once you can do that,

[rock guitar music]

then you just speed it up, so-

[rock guitar music]

Just start with that sequence.

But yeah, that's tapping.

SageOfQuay asks, Upgrade versus upscale.

Is upgrading a cheap guitar worth it,

or are expensive guitars just a scam?

I personally do not think that expensive guitars are a scam.

I think after a certain price point

that's about as good as the guitar is going to get.

You can find really, really great guitars

with what I call mojo.

Those instruments just have a great feeling.

You can find those for under $500.

$1,000 to $1,500 mark is where

you're going to have a fairly intermediate,

it's gonna be a good guitar.

And then after $2,000 and up

is kind of where you're gonna

really well crafted guitars and they're intonated better.

So for example, intonation is,

hitting the harmonic of the 12th fret,

and then hitting the 12th fret,

and how well those match together

is how well intonated that guitar is.

For example, this guitar.

[rock guitar music]

it's pretty well intonated.

If we were to pick up up a cheaper guitar

and see how well this one is intonated.

[guitar music]

You can tell that it's not the best intonated,

but it's not terrible if you're gonna be performing

in front of a a crowd and you want a stable workhorse,

probably want to spend a little bit more on your guitar.

Blues_Web_Radio asks, What does the tone knob actually do?

The tone knob is a high cut filter,

so when you turn it down

it's going to cut a lot of the high frequencies.

So for example, I'm gonna play a riff

with the tone knob all the way up.

[rock guitar music]

Turn knob all the way down.

[rock guitar music]

so you can kind of hear the difference between those.

When I bring it all the way up,

you get the full range of frequencies.

fdhl_ihn asks, How the [bleep] do you sweep picking?

My left hand ain't that fast.

So the first thing that you're gonna want to do

when sweep picking is practice very, very slow.

Both hands need to be perfectly in sync.

To go into that motion, you're gonna want to think

of the pick falling

[guitar riff music] in a sweeping motion

and falling back up

[guitar riff music] in a sweeping motion.

So once you've practice that enough,

you can bring that up to speed and do.

[rock guitar music]

And that's sweep picking.

Simon_V_RadioDJ asks, Right, so, can the guitar players

out there explain different tunings for guitars?

I can never seem to get my head around at it all.

So there's probably a million different tunings out there.

The most common one that you're going to see is E standard,

and that is just

[guitar music] E A D G B E.

That's a great one to start with

because your scales are going to be linear.

[guitar scale music]

The next most common one

is probably gonna be A flat standard.

That one you'll see a lot in older rock music.

Tune the guitar down just by one half step,

so that the singer wouldn't have to belt as hard.

It just gives it a little bit

of a darker sound when it's down tuned.

The next most common one is drop D or any dropped tuning

where your low string is going to go down a whole step.

Nice thing about that is that you're able to do power chords

which is the root, the fifth and the octave.

You'll be able to play those with just one finger.

[rock guitar music]

And then you'll find open tunings

which are commonly used in like math rock and emo music.

You can kind of play easy chord shapes,

but then have really complex sounding chords.

PhellerNJ asks, Y'all like pinch harmonics?

I [bleep] love pinch harmonics.

[rock guitar music]

They're awesome.

If you want to learn how to do a pinch harmonic.

first off you're gonna switch your pickup selection

all the way to the bridge pickup,

and with your right hand you,

[rock guitar music]

you basically take the pick

and you're going to hit the string twice.

Once with the pick, once with your thumb

for one swift action.

[rock guitar music]

So yeah, pinch harmonic.

NathanRelac says, I have no idea

what makes a good guitar tone, and it annoys me.

It has everything to do with taste and using your ears.

As I remember when I was 10 years old,

I could not here what the bass guitar was doing.

I just couldn't distinguish it

between the guitar and the bass guitar,

and then like just a year later I was like,

okay I can clearly hear that now,

and I dunno what was wrong with me.

Now I've been on this earth long enough to understand

what a good mix is and why it's a good mix.

Listening to a lot of music and comparing mixes

and comparing guitar tones will help you

on your journey to crafting a good guitar tone.

Pneumonia27 asks, Do I need to know music theory

in order to write songs?

I think a lot of the best songwriters of all time

probably didn't know any music theory.

I myself do not know a good amount of music theory.

And if you have any melody in your head

and you write it down, you're writing music right there.

So no, you do not need to know music theory

at all to write songs.

Okay, so StackMusic, What should I learn

after learning open and bar chord shapes

if I want to learn fingerstyle guitar?

If it were me,

I would learn right hand techniques.

Number one, muting just with your right hand.

And then number two, plucking with all of the fingers

with fingerstyle versus a pick, you can use all of them, so-

[rock guitar music]

Thumping is a good technique which you can bring

into fingerstyle.

[rock guitar music]

But yeah, just using your right hand techniques.

Rdietz55 asks, Is it more important

to learn how to read music

or to practice learning by ear?

I guess it really depends

on what your goals and music is going to be.

If you want to play in an orchestra,

probably need to learn how to read music.

If you want to play in a band,

it's probably good to practice learning by ear.

I personally think that learning by ear

is a bit more important.

If you're thrown into a performance with other musicians

and there is no sheet music,

playing by ear, you'd be doing it no problem.

naratiwas asks, What are common mistakes

for people learning to play guitar, aka beginner mistakes?

People try to run before they can walk.

Let's say that you have a favorite song,

and it's got like a cool guitar solo or something in it.

So you learn it and you kind of skip out

on a lot of basic fundamentals of technique and timing

and understanding how your hands can affect

the tone of the instrument.

I was a runner before I was a walker.

That helped push me to want to clean up my run

by going back and learning to walk correctly.

So there's no right or wrong way

for anyone to learn how to play guitar,

but that is a definitely mistake that people like to make.

PrayersforRain asks, What's a good song on guitar

to practice power chords that's fairly easy?

I'm trying to learn again.

Ironman, by Black Sabbath.

Classic song, one of the first I ever learned,

and it's got power chords.

So by definition the power chord is gonna have your root,

your fifth and an octave.

In this case we're just gonna take out the octave,

and just do the root and the fifth,

and we're gonna start on the seventh fret of the E,

and the ninth threat of the A.

[rock guitar music]

And it sounds great, it's such a powerful chord.

The root and the fifth.

The melody is going to be

the same chord shape the entire time.

kidsnotaaints asks, How the [bleep] can Tim Henson

write Playing God?

Like can he break it down?

I started that with an omni chord,

an electric instrument originating from Japan in the '80s.

I kind of picked a chord sequence from the omni chord

that sounded minor and very classical to me, so.

[rock guitar music]

So those are the chords.

After then I kind of just arpeggiated the chords

in different rhythmic sequences.

And arpeggio is a broken up chord,

First chord with a quarter note

and then our arpeggiating with eighth notes.

[rock guitar music]

And then the second chord, arpeggiating with syncopation.

[rock guitar music]

Third chord hitting quarter note,

and then arpeggiating with eighth notes.

[rock guitar music]

And then other rhythmic variation.

By the time we get back to this chord,

[rock guitar music]

I'm hitting a melody of [humming] with harmonics, so.

[rock guitar music]

And then you've got.

[rock guitar music]

So in full that looks like.

[rock guitar music]

muhdkhaigi asks, How do people freaking learn

a song by ear?

If you can hear the melody in your head,

if you can sing the melody, you can play it by ear.

A good exercise is ear training.

So sitting down with a piano or any instrument.

Sing a note and play the note back.

[guitar music] [humming]

And also like playing along with your favorite songs.

If I wanted to think of Careless Whisper,

by George Michael, I would sing it [humming].

[Careless Whisper, by George Michael]

It's a fairly simple concept, but it takes some practice,

and with practice anybody can get it.

SpaghettiKing10 asks, Not to sound post-modern,

but what makes a guitar good

other than comfort/playability?

There's something that I mentioned earlier,

which is the word mojo.

I guess that's the feeling,

and how much it inspires you to create,

how much it inspires you to play.

My first guitar ever was a Squire Strap.

It's $150, but it had a lot of mojo.

It really made me want to pick it up and play it.

Other than that, a guitar can be good

if it is built really well,

and how well intonated the instrument can be.

With shoddy craftsmanship you'll see things like the frets.

If you were to like run your hand

and you're feeling jagged things and you're getting cut,

it's gonna be not great craftsmanship.

If there's like a space between the neck and the body joint,

that's probably not a good guitar,

or a well-built guitar.

And that's the thing is that like it could be

a badly built guitar but still have mojo.

It's really hard to put your finger

on what makes a good guitar,

and it's kind of just a subjective thing.

Dreaaa asks, How do you get an instrument to djent?

For those of you who are unaware of what djent is,

it's an onomatopoeia that kind of describes

the sound of that particular style.

I like to think of like the transformers robots

biting into a car or something.

That's what a djent to me sounds like.

So if you're into metal music, the closest thing

that I could equate it to would be a guitar chug.

So that would sound like this.

[guitar chugging]

And a djent would sound like this.

[guitar djenting]

To get that sound, what you need to do is take a power cord,

chug it, that's just putting your palm near the bridge,

and doing a chug.

And then what you're going to do is move that up

just slightly and then as much power as you can

into that right hand to get it to sound almost [bleep].

[guitar djenting]

And that's a djent.

[guitar djenting]

JLacharite1 asks, In a day and age

when everything has been done,

how do you be original?

If you consume as much art as you can,

as much music as you can with contrasting genres and styles,

the more original your voice can be.

Let's say that you like jazz and you like hip hop

and you like country music,

and you consume a lot of those different kinds of music.

When you sit down to try and create,

if that's what you've been inputting,

your output will be somewhat original.

I grew up on virtuoso guitar playing.

Around the time that I graduated high school

I discovered Top 40 music.

I started studying that,

and found so many things to appreciate

about that those styles of music.

That's where a lot of my sound and and style comes from

is mixing the easy digestible melodies

from Top 40 music with guitar virtuoso music,

to then create something that didn't exist

necessarily before.

Andreimclive asks, What are your favorite metal scales

and how do you like to practice them?

Do you noodle around with the scale,

or do you target something specific when practicing?

I personally like to do a lot of noodling.

One of my favorite scales to practice

fairly metal sounding is the harmonic minor scale.

Let's just start with the minor scale.

[guitar scale music]

The harmonic minor scale, you're going to raise the seven.

So that's gonna.

[guitar scale music]

That note is what gives it that quality.

So running up and down the scales

is always gonna be a good practice,

and then finding musical ways to apply them.

And that's all the questions,

I hope you guys learn something to you next time.

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