I am pleased to announce that I am now offering guitar lessons at the Music Room in Dumfries. I will be available Mondays 3:30 to 7:30pm. The Music Room is an excellent facility and is right in the town centre. Please contact me if you’d like to book a lesson.
I moved here in March last year (2017) and took over a smallholding. This has kept me more than busy and I have not had the time to get all my teaching info up to date. However, as of today, I am back and ready to teach. I have sorted out my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and corrected my phone number. My apologies if you have been trying to reach me.
So, if you are looking for guitar lessons, give me a call on 01848 200571.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Which Guitar should I buy?
One of the most common questions I am asked by budding new guitarists is “which guitar should I buy?” Some more experienced guitarists also ask for advice when pondering a new guitar.
The first question to ask yourself is – What type of music do you wish to play?
There are basically three types of guitar – electric, acoustic and classical. So, the type of music will determine which of these you need. This is generally the easiest question as most people know if they want an electric guitar. However, there is often some confusion as to the difference between classical and acoustic. Classical guitars are nylon string and are principally for classical music. They have a wide neck so can sometime be harder for small hands to play. Acoustic are generally steel strung.
One thing to say, if you are considering doing A-Level music and guitar is your instrument of choice, I would strongly recommend you go classical. While some schools accept electric or acoustic, I have found that people going down this route find it much harder to get the marks they need. You can always play the other guitars for fun.
Having chosen they type of guitar, there is then much choice within each.
If you are a budding new guitarist, I would set your budget around £150-£200 and go for one of the starter packs – a Squier Stratocaster is quite a good buy. I have two of them and they are surprisingly good. The starter pack generally comes with a small amp, guitar bag and guitar strap. Stratocasters are probably the most versatile guitar, it was my favourite stage instrument for many years. Famous players include Jimi Hendrix, Dave Gilmour, Eric Clapton and others. I have three stratocasters and they are great. The one pictured to the right is a Squier Strat deluxe that I use for teaching and it”s really good.
Also worth considering are some of the Epiphones (these are the budget Les Pauls). If your thing is Guns and Roses or Oasis, these might be the guitars for you.
That said, as you progress and become a skilled player, it is likely you will buy a guitar to suit your style, so the best advise is to buy the one that you find most comfortable to play. And for this reason I generally recommend you buy it from a shop (where you can try it) rather than online.
There are a huge number of budget acoustic guitars around and so it would be hard to pick a particular make here. The one pictured to the left is a mid range Ibanez that cost around £400, but I have tried a number that are much cheaper and they are all pretty good.
The most important thing is comfort. Go to a shop, try them and find they one that you find most comfortable. Don’t worry, they (shop staff) won’t expect you to play it!
Things to consider are the size and the type. The size is important. The bigger the guitar, the louder it can play, but the more uncomfortable it can become. I am over 6 feet tall, but I find some of the fully bodied acoustic guitars dig into my arms in awkward places.
And the volume of the guitar need not be an issue as you can get electro-acoustic guitars, i.e. acoustic guitars that can be plugged into an amplifier. The Ibanez on the left is an electro acoustic guitar, though I find it generally loud enough without having to plug it in.
Finally, I’d recommend getting a “cutaway”. This is the curvy bit that enables you to reach those higher frets more easily. The Ibanez on the left has a cutaway.
So, again and for the above reasons, I would recommend you buy it from a shop (where you can try it) rather than online.
This is the hardest area in which to post a recommendation. That said, the shops are full of quite decent budget classical guitars. I recently bought such a guitar in a shop in Edinburgh so I could perform the Rodrigo Guitar Concerto at my friend’s dad’s 80th birthday. We bought the guitar on the way to the party! (It lives in Edinburgh now and is there for me to play when I am up there.)
So, the best thing to do is to go to a shop and try a few for comfort. Slide your hands up and down the neck to check for sharp protruding frets (this is the most common fault with budget classical guitars and is really annoying).
I love the variety of music I get to teach. Yesterday, I started with some basic electric guitar soloing techniques. Then, we moved to the solo from the White Stripes’ “Ball and Biscuit”. Now, this was an interesting solo to transcribe given that the rhythm is 12:8, but the count of 4 would make it a sort of 24:16, so I ended up writing it in 4:4 using triplets. It’s also complicated by the fact that it’s played with slide guitar, but my student is not using a slide.
Then, later in the evening, I find myself teaching Spanish classical guitar and flamenco, specifically a Rumba written by Juan Martin and published in an edition of Guitar Techniques I have on file. It’s basically written around Em and Am chords, but the extensions used, the minor 9ths, 7ths and 6ths give it a really great sound. And some of the chords are finger contortions, even for me. It’s all good practice.
The latter student is looking to maybe learn Classical Gas next, excellent choice. It’s also one of the pieces I am most often asked to play (along with Hotel California!).
Happy guitar playing 🙂