Leave the Xbox and grab a guitar!

There is no substitute for one on one guitar lessons and I offer a practical modern approach which is fun and a great way for children to gain other skills. It helps develop their coordination, concentration and overall confidence. I use the Rockschool syllabus which have great versions of modern songs and children get a real sense of pride and achievement when they pass the exams. The first book is the Debut one and I have never not had a student pass it first time and they get a really cool certificate!

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Fender Stratocaster – the most iconic guitar in the world?

The Fender Stratocaster was designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares. The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has continuously manufactured the Stratocaster from 1954 to the present day. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top “horn” shape for balance.

The Stratocaster features three single coil pickups, with the output originally selected by a 3-way switch. Guitarists soon discovered that by jamming the switch in between the first and second position, both the bridge and middle pickups could be selected, and similarly, the middle and neck pickups could be selected between the 2nd and 3rd position.

Custom Shop models can cost many thousands of pounds, but a Standard American Stratocaster today can cost around £1,200, but there are many more affordable options. The first one being the Stratocasters made in Mexico that start from around £400, and the much more affordable Squire range starting at around £100.

Notable players include, for classic rock n roll, Buddy Holly, blues, Jimi Hendrix, prog rock, David Gilmour and the guitarist that influenced me to pick up and learn a guitar, The Edge from U2.

The 335 – the most versatile guitar in the world?

The ES-335 was the world’s first commercial thinline archtop semi-acoustic electric guitar (also known as “semi-hollowbody” or “thinline”). Originally released by Gibson in 1958, it is neither fully hollow nor fully solid. Instead, a solid maple wood block runs through the centre of its body. The side “wings” formed by the two “cutaways” into its upper bouts are hollow, and the top has two violin-style f-holes over the hollow chambers.

Recommended listening:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll – just about any recording or live performance by Chuck Berry
  • Blues – Eric Clapton with Cream at the Royal Albert Hall on 26th November 1968
  • Rock – Ritchie Blackmore with Deep Purple at the Royal Albert Hall with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on 24th September 1969
  • Indie – just about any recording or live performance by Noel Gallagher with Oasis

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get hold of one or to enjoy playing one of these fantastic guitars. Whilst a Gibson 335 will cost you around £2,500 you can pick up a Washburn HB30 for around £280, which I actually use.

Which guitar is best for you?

If you are thinking about which guitar is best for you, the two major brands are Fender and Gibson. Most other cheaper alternatives are usually based on one of these brands.

There are lots of differences between the models but the main difference from a playability standpoint is that Fender necks are a bit longer and therefore tend to suit slightly bigger hands. If like me, you have quite small hands, the slightly smaller Gibson necks are usually more comfortable to play. If possible, try to play a guitar before you buy it as every person is different and a guitar is a very personal choice.

For younger children 3/4 size guitars are available but a good age to start thinking about a full size guitar is around 10 or 11.

Learning the guitar is about more than just learning the guitar!

Studies have shown that children who study music and learn how to play a musical instrument develop an appreciation for music and culture but also gain many other benefits.

Playing an instrument improves brain function by enhancing coordination, concentration and memory. It also improves communication skills and social interaction and overall confidence.

Children learning music perform better academically in school and gain higher grades and test scores.

These are just a handful of reasons why encouraging your child to learn the guitar can be beneficial.

Black Sabbath

Sad news on 7th March 2017 as Black Sabbath officially announced that they had disbanded. It was of no real surpise given that the gig in Birmingham on the 4th February was meant to be their final show.

Tony Iommi, one of the holy trinity of great rock guitarists of the 1970’s has always been an influence on me (I also play a Gibson SG like the great man). The other two of course being Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore.

If you are unfamiliar with their material, check out their first two albums, Black Sabbath and Paranoid and turn it up to eleven man!

Happy new year!

Happy new year to all my students and many thanks for the Christmas cards, presents and continued custom.

For anyone who still hasn’t made any new year resolutions, what about picking up that old guitar in the spare room and treating yourself to a few lessons?

Details of my prices and services provided are on my website.

Starting up

Learning to play the guitar doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg

A quick visit to Amazon and you can see a number of acoustic guitars costing less than £50 to get you started, or for less than £100 you can get a full size electric guitar with an amp, strap etc.!

So for very little outlay, with lots of practice and some professional lessons, you could be well on your way to your musical dream, be it playing to friends and family, down the local pub or even on stage in front to thousands.

 

 

 

Festivals

If you are into music and like watching live bands, one of the best ways to see a variety of different acts, is to go to a festival.

Whether it is a local one, such as Splendour, Dot to Dot, Chillifest or Gloworm, or one of the big ones such as Download or Glastonbury, you are guaranteed an eclectic mix of styles and music. Sadly, the only thing that can’t be guaranteed is the weather!

So why not drop me an email and one day you could go from standing in the crowd to playing to the crowd.

My rig

For both my original band “Thrasonic” and my function band “Superfuzz” I favour one of the most iconic set ups in rock history, which is a Gibson (in my case, an SG) into a non-master  Marshall amp and turn up to eleven!

In both bands I use a variety of effect pedals, but two I simply couldn’t do without. These are my JMI Tonebenders – I have a Mark 1 and a Mark 1.5. The Mark 1.5  is my current favourite and I use extensively in my original band.

The other classic vintage effect is a Treble Booster, which I use when playing in my function band.

To hear this classic sound of a Gibson through a Fuzz, into a Marshall listen to artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Mick Ronson (early Bowie) and, most famously, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.