Tag Archives: Beginner Guitar

Choosing a guitar for an adult beginner

Opinion is split as to whether an electric or an acoustic guitar is better to begin with so if you don’t feel strongly about which you prefer, try both before you decide. Don’t buy a classical (nylon string) guitar unless you intend to play classical/folk music. Although the strings are kinder to your fingers, they tend to have a very wide fret board which isn’t ideal for most styles of music and the sound quality is very different from steel strings.

Electric Guitar: The Pros:

The strings are closer to the neck than the average acoustic meaning you don’t need to press as hard. This also makes it easier to change chords at first.

Many amps have headphone sockets so, although one of the main concerns about electric guitar is the noise, in practice, they can be significantly quieter than an acoustic. More practical if you have small children or grumpy neighbours!

You can add effects pedals to recreate the exact sound you are looking for.

A small amount of ability can sound very impressive!

Electric Guitar: The Cons:

Due to the need for amp/lead etc as well as your guitar, the initial spend is significantly higher.

They are much heavier than an acoustic because the body is solid. The weight also varies massively between brands and body shapes so don’t buy one without holding it first.

If you’re going to lessons, bear in mind that, unless you can just take your guitar and use your teacher’s amp, there is a lot of gear to lug around. This also applies to taking your guitar away with you or going to buskers nights etc. (Although, for portable practice, Vox Headphone amps are pretty cool!).

In general, greater accuracy of playing is required as everything is magnified by the amplifier.

What to check before you buy:

What do you get with it? Although many electric guitars, particularly beginner ones, come with everything you need, don’t assume it’s included, or that it’s not! If it’s not included, is there a discount available for accessories?

Does the shop test the amp when it arrives? Most shops test and tweak guitars on arrival but if the amp hasn’t been tested, ask if it can be checked before you leave to avoid any potential issues.

Acoustic Guitar: The Pros

You can pick up a decent quality starter acoustic guitar for less than £60.

Acoustic guitars are far more convenient and portable. This applies both to playing at home and to taking it out and about.

They encourage good technique and start strengthening your fingers straightaway.

There are several different body sizes including Dreadnought, Folk, Cutaway and slimline among others so there’s a good chance of finding one that’s comfortable for you to play.

Acoustic Guitar: The Cons

It’s a bit harder to pull fancy moves in the beginning.

The tone quality is harder to play around with (unless you have an electro-acoustic).

If you do need to play louder, you can use a mic or a clip-on pick-up but the sound is never as good as a built in pick-up. Again, if you think you’re likely to want to do this, consider investing in an electro-acoustic guitar to avoid any inconvenience.

What to check before you buy

The more you spend, the better you can expect the action to be. Make sure that you can press the strings down all the way up the frets and they aren’t too high (too far from the fret board) to play comfortably.

As you go higher up the price scale, the quality of the workmanship and the component parts should be higher too.

If you are spending £150 plus, the guitar should probably have a solid top.

Do you get any accessories or can you get a discount on extras like a gig bag, strap and tuner?

Ready to buy your first guitar? Pop into enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop to try some and let us help you choose the right guitar for you today!

North Tyneside Music Hub Raffle Results

Thank you sooo much to everyone who bought and sold raffle tickets to support North Tyneside Music Hub. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back because we raised nearly £1000!!!

The winning tickets are:
1st: 1365 (Electric Guitar Package – claimed)
2nd: 0834 (£25 Shopping Vouchers – claimed)
3rd: 1108 (£25 Shopping Vouchers)
Congratulations to all our winners 🙂

North Tyneside Music Education Hub (NTMEH) offer brilliant music opportunities to young people across the county including orchestras, choirs, steel pan bands, training bands and loads more. Most of these activities are free of charge which is why every penny we raised is so important. If your children would like to get involved, you can find out more at http://www.ntmeh.org.uk/.

As the guitar package was donated by enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop and the shopping vouchers were kindly provided by the management at Royal Quays, the full amount of your donations will go towards supporting music for young people.

Thanks again for your support!

NTMEH Concert

How to use a digital tuner

 

We always encourage you to buy a tuner with any stringed instrument – most often a guitar or a ukulele. Many phones and tablets have a download app you can use and obviously something is better than nothing but there are a few reasons why a clip-on tuner is a better option.

The first is that, because they work by vibration, a clip-on tuner is significantly more accurate than either an app or a desk tuner for stringed instruments. The second positive about a clip-on tuner is that they aren’t disturbed by external noise eg: other people tuning around you or the TV.

So, what’s the best and easiest way to use a clip-on tuner to get the maximum results? Just follow the easy steps below, ideally every time you play, to keep your instrument sounding great:

– Make sure your tuner is set up correctly for the instrument you are tuning. You may have options for mode – eg which instrument and notes you need so make sure you’ve selected an appropriate option first. Also there may be a choice of pitch. In normal circumstances, this should be set to 440, which is standard concert pitch.

– Attach your tuner in a way that gets the best reception. This is the headstock of a guitar, ukulele, banjo or mandolin and the middle of the back of the neck on a violin. Try slightly different angles and positions until you find your perfect positioning where you get a good signal, you can see the display clearly and you can comfortably reach the tuning pegs.

– It sounds obvious, but make sure the peg you are turning relates to the string you are trying to tune! If in doubt, follow the string along to find the peg it’s attached to. Even experienced musicians sometimes snap a string by turning the wrong peg and not stopping to wonder why the pitch of the string isn’t changing :-).

– New strings go further out of tune and a lot more often so don’t worry if you seem to spend a lot of time tuning at first. As long as you store your instrument away from changing heat (not near a radiator or in the loft/conservatory/shed!) then it should settle down so you can tune once or twice a week.

We have a great selection of tuners for all instruments in store at Royal Quays, or you can see them here:

http://www.enjoymuzic.com/acatalog/musical-instrument-tuners.html

TGI 81 Digital Tuner

Guitars Die In Lofts

Guitars Die In Lofts (and where you should be keeping them!)

As Christmas looms and we start buying gifts, bulky items like guitars and other musical instruments do pose a bit of a storage problem. However, if you’ve found the perfect guitar for your child or partner, the loft, shed, garage and anywhere else with extreme changes of temperature is definitely not the clever hiding place it might seem to be. Broken strings are the most likely (and easiest to solve) problem. But much worse things can happen to a shiny new guitar, ukulele, banjo etc when stored in these conditions. If you live with Mr (or Mrs) Inquisitive, try asking a friend if they can hide it for you. Also, many shops (including enjoymuzic), will store items you have purchased until as late as Christmas Eve if you ask.

Once your instrument is ready to move in and be enjoyed, you should also bear in mind that the same rules apply when choosing where to keep it. Radiators and window spaces which get a lot of sun should definitely be avoided if possible. Studies show that instruments which are on display are played more often so we’d suggest a guitar stand, or even a wall hanger to keep your instrument both safe and accessible.

Click here to view our whole range of guitar stands and accessories at enjoymuzic – Your North East Music Shop.

How to fit a guitar strap

If you play an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar with two strap buttons, fitting your guitar strap is as simple as pushing the leather ends onto the buttons and adjusting the length.

If you have an acoustic or nylon string guitar, it isn’t always obvious what to do – in fact, it’s one of the questions we get asked most often.

Start by pushing one end onto the strap button* on the bottom of your guitar. If there is writing or a picture on your strap, at this point it should be upside down.

You will need a shoe lace or something similar to tackle the other end. (Often, guitar straps will come with one.) Fold it in half and thread the folded end through the hole in the strap then pop the two ends through and pull to form a loop.

guitar strap with lace attached

Now take one of the ends and thread it through the guitar strings at the machine head end. It should be just behind the top nut, not on the main fretboard.

guitar neck showing position for lace to attach

Tie a good knot underneath the headstock – a reef knot is perfect. Check your knot for the first week or so to make sure it’s staying nice and tight and supporting your guitar safely.

If you prefer, you can use a leather strap button like this Martin one which threads through in the same place and offers extra support…Martin Guitar Strap Button CloseupMartin Guitar Strap Button Attached

There’s more info about the Martin Guitar Strap Button here.

* Some guitars, particularly classical ones, don’t have a strap button on the bottom. You can fit one yourself and most good music shops sell them separately or in pairs.

Learning music is cheaper than you think!

This time of year is a worry for many parents whose children are fired up with the idea of starting to play an instrument. There’s no need to spend a fortune however. Here’s a quick idea of the starting prices for beginner instruments at enjoymuzic this year. And remember, a bit of friendly advice is free so if you have any questions before you buy, just pop in!

Ukulele packages from £16.99
Recorders from £3.50
3/4 Guitars from £34.70
Flute & Clarinet outfits from £120 (or rent for just £36 for 3 months!)
Trumpet outfits from £135 (also available to rent)
Violin outfits from £79.99
Touch Sensitive Electronic Keyboard outfits from £139
Digital Pianos outfits from £324

There’s loads more to see instore and we’re open every day!

Check out our more detailed tips on buying a guitar, choosing a beginner flute or which ukulele to buy!

Picking the right pick – plectrums for beginner guitarists

At enjoymuzic we stock a varied range of plectrums and for new players it can be confusing as to what plectrums to use.

Let’s start with guitar plectrums (there are plenty of them!). Also called picks, plectrums come in different shapes, sizes and thickness. There is no official right or wrong plectrum but you have to decide what suits your playing style and what feels comfortable.

Tortex guitar picks are my favourite (after 10 years of using a wide variety of plectrums), they are plastic picks and come in different gauges (thickness). The textured surface provides a good grip even if your fingers are slippy.

Dunlop also make plenty of different plectrums, make sure to check them out. Ernie Ball have a plain plastic plectrum range and also have a nylon style that offers more grip for those (like myself) who like something to hang on to. My colleague loves Planet Waves Picks because they’re cheap, good quality and come in loads of different designs from tortoiseshell to rainbow!

Sharkfin plectrums are shaped like a shark fin. The green sharkfin is so flexible you can bend it completely over on itself. The black ones are the heaviest and provide no give at all. Acoustic players often like to use the thin plectrums as they can control dynamics, whilst still maintaining their tone whereas thicker picks give a louder, brighter sound.

If you have a favourite band, film or television programme the chances are you will be able to get them on a guitar pick. See our selection of character and rock band plectrums here – we even have Spongebob Squarepants picks! Many of them come in pick tins – a very handy way to keep them safe!

If you don’t know what plectrums to use I would advise to buy 6 – 10 different ones that vary in both shape and gauge. Have a try of them all and hopefully you will find out which plectrum suits you. Starting at 3 for £1 for good quality, branded picks, you can’t really go wrong!

Other picks and accessories you might need…

Bass players tend to use a very heavy gauge of plecs as the strings are much thicker. Big Stubbys are popular with bass players ranging from 1mm to 5 mm in thickness.

Folk instrument plectrums

Some players like to use guitar plectrums for their folk instrument whilst others believe that the strings on folk instruments will be damaged from the use of plastic plectrums and the tone will be poorer.

Felt plectrums are commonly used on ukuleles as they are soft on the strings and reduce the clicking sound on the strings that you get with plastic picks. We sell both thick and thin felt plectrums. We also stock leather plectrums that are designed to give you a bright sound yet it doesn’t compromise playability. These can be used on ukes and mandolins.

Banjo players use finger and thumb picks. These are normally made of nickel or plastic and help to produce a clear picking sound. They come in different sizes to help find the ones that snuggly fit onto fingers and thumb. You can try a plastic thumb pick on your guitar if you find it difficult to grip a normal plectrum.

Plectrum holders

Where to keep them without losing them?! The problem with guitar picks is that even if you put them in your wallet/pocket/a special place at home, they do mysteriously disappear.

Dadi pick holders are great as they are small and store a good amount of plectrums for the size and price. They even have a sticky patch on the back so you can stick it to your instrument case or music stand.

Keep rockin’

Joe

What is a Metronome? (And why do I need one?)

A range of Wittner Piccolo Metronomes.
A range of Wittner Piccolo Metronomes.

A metronome is used to help a musician to play on the beat and keep the rhythm and speed of the piece steady and consistent. You can also use it to tell you how fast the music should be played.

There are two main types of metronome and it’s important to choose the one that will be best for you…

Traditional Metronomes:

These metronomes are normally a pyramid shape and can be made of plastic or wood. They operate on a mechanical system like a clock pendulum with a weight which you manually adjust up and down to change the speed. The Wittner branded ones tend to be more reliable like these funky coloured Wittner Taktell Piccolo Metronomes or the more traditional Maelzel Pyramid Metronome, like this mahogany coloured one. For a cheaper alternative, try the Cherub metronome range.

Great if..
You play a static instrument, like piano.
You find watching the backwards and forwards motion helps you to play in time.

Not for you if…
You want to carry your metronome with you to lessons or rehearsals.
You find the weight hard to adjust and prefer buttons!

Digital Metronomes…

Digital metronomes are much smaller than a traditional one and are normally significantly cheaper. You control the speed of the beats with buttons and they often perform other useful functions too. Make sure you hear this type of metronome before buying since the noises they make vary from a simulated ticking to beeps which can be rather annoying.

Great if…
You need it to be small and portable.
You play an instrument which requires a tuner, since many brands offer a metronome/tuner combo, like this Planet Waves Metrotuner.
You are on a tight budget.

Not for you if…
You find a visual aid useful in addition to hearing the beat.
You don’t like gadgets!

Christmas Gift Ideas for Musicians

The Music Shop at Royal Quays for Low Cost Music
(and some great Christmas Gift Ideas!)

GiftMontageStrip

Running out of Christmas present ideas for your musical family and friends? 
Come and see our great selection of Music Stocking Fillers & Gifts from only 60p in stock now.

 Scarves, Socks, Ties, Bow Ties, Mugs, Coasters, Mouse Mats, Necklaces, Cufflinks, Earrings, Games, Money Boxes, Photo Frames, Wall Clocks, Miniature Clocks, Hand Held Percussion, Tissues, Napkins, Paper Plates, Pens, Pencils, Notepads, Erasers, Magnets, Keyrings, Pin Badges, Wall Hooks, Glass Tumblers, Plectrum Packs, Electronic Tuners, Address Books, Penny Whistles, Whistles, Musical Animals, Trinket Boxes, Tea Towels, Aprons, Stash Tins, Music Bags, Handbags, Tote Bags, Gift Bags, Wrapping Paper, Greetings Cards, Christmas Cards, Classical CDs, Playing Cards, Cookie Cutters, Handkerchiefs, Capos, Ukuleles, Music Stands, Stickers, Pencil Cases, Pencil Sharpeners, Harmonicas… and much, much more!
…all with a music theme.

GuitarMontageStrip Starter Musical Instrument Packages
Quality Instruments at Affordable Prices

Junior guitar packages from £39.95, 3/4 size guitar packages from £49.99, Electric guitar packages from £149.90, Electric Bass Packages from £175.00, Casio CTK-3200 Keyboard & Power Adapter £134.99, Flute Packages from £121.00, Clarinet Packages from £139.92 

All guitar packages include a guitar carry bag, strap, spare strings, plectrum and a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.

Electric guitar packages also include a 10W practice amp, electronic tuner, guitar stand, guitar lead and tutorial DVD.

 Everyone at enjoymuzic wishes you a fabulous festive season and we’re looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Top ten guitar accessories (part two)…

More top tools and gadgets to help you always sound your best and perfect gift ideas for your favourite guitarist.  If you haven’t seen part one yet, here it is… Top ten guitar accessories (part one)

6)  Capo – barre chords made easy!

Play in any key whatever your ability. Cover all 6 strings to change the pitch and make it more suitable for singing or playing. There are loads of different styles and price brackets of capo. We love the ‘quick change’ designs.

7)  Fast fret – for ease of movement!

Don’t get stuck to your fretboard! Keeping your fingerboard well maintained with Fast Fret will improve your speed and make your playing smoother and more comfortable. All the best guitarists use it – give it a try today and feel the difference!

8)  Music Stand – seeing your music makes it easier to play!

It’s easy to ‘get along’ without a stand for your music. However, being able to put your tutor book in a comfortable position AND maintain a good playing posture can catapult your playing forward.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a music stand. Our range start at £8.99.

9)  Foot stool – great posture starts at the bottom!

Guitar footstools are aimed at Classical or Spanish guitar players and if you have a nylon string guitar with no strap, a foot stool will make you much more comfortable when you play. However, if you need a bit of extra support, try a footstool with your steel string or electric guitar to take the pressure off your neck and shoulders and help you to position your wrist better.

10) Slide – sustain & glide!

If you’re a country or blues music enthusiast, a good slide is essential. If you haven’t used one before, a glass one is lighter and easier to control but for full-on resonance, a metal guitar slide is ideal for intermediate and advanced players.

If the guitarist in your life has all these accessories (and more!), have a look at our great range of gifts for guitarists for some brilliant birthday and Christmas ideas.