Dansm's Home Page

Frequently Asked Questions
Hi! Welcome to Dansm's Guitar Pages. My name is Dan Smith, I'm a senior at Cornell, and I've been playing guitar for 4 years now. This page is designed to answer the most common questions I receive through e-mail. They are loosely grouped into categories for your convenience.
Do you have tabs or chords to such-and-such a song?
Do you take requests for specific songs?
Can you figure out such-and-such a song?
Do you know where I can find tabs or chords to such-and-such a song?
How do I read tab notation (E:--4-6h7-9p7--)?

What brand of guitar should a beginner buy?
Should I buy an acoustic or an electric guitar?

Where should a beginner start?
What should a beginner do to practice and improve their playing?
Should I take guitar lessons?
What guitar books and videos are best?

How do I tune my guitar?
How do I tune using alternate tunings?
How do I use a capo?
What guitar strings should I use?

How do I form such-and-such a chord?
How do I know what key I am playing in?
How do I transpose from one key to another?
How do I use modes to solo?

I can't read or print your tabs without having them wrap around. What's wrong?
Can I download your entire site in one archive/zip file?

What is an MP3?
Where can I find the MP3 of such-and-such a song?
What is the "Neighborhood"?

What is the meaning of the song Hotel California?
What are colitas? (from the song Hotel California)

Do you have tabs or chords to such-and-such a song?
All my tabs can be found on my
acoustic songs page or my Eagles tab page. I do not have any other tabs.

Do you take requests for specific songs?
Can you figure out such-and-such a song

I don't have time to both figure out the songs I want to figure out and do requests. Therefore, unless your request happens to overlap with a tune I was already thinking about figuring out, I will not do it. Additionally, because of the volume of requests that I get, I am unable to reply to them individually telling you whether I will or will not tab the song. In short, the chances of a request turning into a tab in the near future is about .01%.

Do you know where I can find tabs or chords to such-and-such a song?
I do not use tabs from the net; I figure out all the songs I perform. Therefore, I do not know where you can find tabs to ANY song that is not on my
page. Don't even bother asking.

How do I read tab notation (E:--4-6h7-9p7--)?
My page on
tab notation explains how to read tab.

What type of guitar should a beginner buy?
The following refer only to acoustic guitars. I know nothing about good electric guitar brands. If you want to spend under $400, I recommend Seagull, Epiphone, and Washburn. If you want to spend more, I recommend the low-end Martin guitars (DM, DR, D-1). Whatever price range you choose, I recommend going to the store and playing ALL guitars in your price range to see which one feels best. You can also ask the salesman to play them so you know how they sound.

Should I buy an acoustic or an electric guitar?
That depends on what type of music you want to play. If you listen to music with electric guitars, like hard rock/metal/alternative, then you'll be happier with an electric. If you want to play lighter music, like the songs featured on my
acoustic songs page, then you'll prefer an acoustic. I do not believe that either type is easier to learn on, but they are very different instruments.

Where should a beginner start?
What should a beginner do to practice and improve their playing?

Try my
beginner's page and this will guide you through your first two years of playing.

Should I take guitar lessons?
I recommend taking guitar lessons because a good teacher can look at your playing and tell you what you are doing wrong before it becomes a bad habit. I can't do that over e-mail. However, if you don't have time or money, you can learn on your own. It just takes more time and there is no guarantee that you will do it right.

What guitar books and videos are best?
I have never read a guitar book or watched a guitar video in my life. Therefore, I don't know what's best. However, I do know that many people say my pages are better than any video or book they've ever seen. So save your money unless you can't get your questions answered by this site or by your guitar teacher.

How do I tune my guitar?
Read my pages on
tuning a 6-string or tuning a 12-string.

How do I tune using alternate tunings?
Read my page on
alternate tunings.

How do I use a capo?
Read my page on
capo use to learn how to use a capo, or my page on capo chord equivalents to learn how to change keys using a capo.

What guitar strings should I use?
My
guitar strings ratings outline the experiences I have had with strings on my Martin D-1. Others have very different opinions. I encourage you to experiment with many brands and gauges of strings to see what's best for your guitar.

How do I form such-and-such a chord?
I have two pages on chord formation: my
list of common chords and my chord theory page. These pages will tell you how to form a chord or will teach you how to figure out how to form a chord. Chords that are not discussed on these pages are rare.

How do I know what key I am playing in?
Read my series of pages on keys which can be found at my
chord theory page.

How do I transpose from one key to another?
Read my page titled "Transposing Chords to Other Keys" which can be found at my
chord theory page.

How do I use modes to solo?
Read the background pages on scales which can be found on my
scales page. They can be found near the top of the page.

I can't read or print your tabs without having them wrap around. What's wrong?
The tab files on my pages are designed to support monitor resolutions of 800x600 or higher. This is done so my tabs will be easier to read. If you are having problems with tab wrap-around, change your monitor resolution to 800x600.

Can I download your entire site in one archive/zip file?
Due to copyright restrictions, I am unable to distribute my entire web page in one file. Sorry I can't help more.

What is an MP3?
MP3 is an audio file format which compresses CD-quality audio 1:12. Thus, full songs are easily downloadable at ~4MB each. You can find players and sites with songs by searching for MP3 in any search engine. They are very fun and very illegal.

Where can I find the MP3 of such-and-such a song?
I do not own nor do I condone any MP3 sites. To find one, search for MP3 in any search engine.

What is the "Neighborhood"?
The "Neighborhood" is the Windows95 Network Neighborhood, the local area network in my dorm. It is not accessible from the internet and you cannot download MP3's from it.

What is the meaning of the song Hotel California?
Hotel California is about the decadence and excesses of life in Southern California during the 1970s: the drugs, the sex, the extravagant lifestyle, etc. It is not about the devil.

What are colitas? (from the song Hotel California)
As far as I can figure out, "colitas" means "little tails" in Spanish, which translates into "marijuana." The Eagles and I do not condone the use of marijuana or other drugs.


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1998 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 11-12-98.