Tag Archives: First 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!

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!

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.

Top ten guitar accessories (part one)…

The top tools and gadgets to help you always sound your best and perfect gift ideas for your favourite guitarist.

1)  Tuner – because your guitar won’t sound right without it!

Unless you’re one of the 1 in 10,000 people who have perfect pitch, a tuning device is essential. Strings stretch and contract while you’re playing and also with changes in temperature so even if your guitar is tuned once a week by a teacher, you should ideally tune every time you play. If you’re using learning aids with a backing CD, your guitar needs to be bang in tune to sound right, even if you’re hitting the correct notes! This also applies if you play with other people, either in a class or a band.

Tuning with a tuner is easy, particularly with one like the Snark clip-on tuner which has a nice, easy-to-follow display.

NB: Many people use the ‘fifth fret rule’ so your guitar will sound ok. However, if your guitar is never checked on a tuner, you still risk snapping a string through over-tightening.

2)  Gig bag – because your guitar deserves protection!

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a carry bag. How much you choose to spend will depend on the value of your guitar. We prefer bags with a side opening zip (less chance of damage to the tuning pegs!) and back-pack straps make it easy to carry. We offer a budget price TGI student guitar gig bag and also a more padded version.

3)  Stand – got 5 minutes? Spend it playing your guitar!

One of the main reasons people don’t play their guitar is that they feel they must set aside a long period of time for practice. However, if your guitar is standing safely and easily accessible, you can achieve a lot in short bursts of 5 – 10 minutes. Also, guitars tend to get left out anyway and being knocked over whilst leaning against a wall or sofa is the biggest cause of damaged instruments.

There are many styles of guitar stand including lightweight (ideal for taking to gigs and also in smaller spaces), stands with a backrest and we even offer the Hercules guitar hanger to store your guitar on the wall!

4)  Pick selection – different pick, different sound!

The pick you choose will depend what music you want to play. A harder pick will make a louder, brasher sound whereas the thinner ones create a gentler tone. The different gauges also feel different in your hand, so your grip is a factor too. Musician and Band or character picks make a great gift for a guitarist.

Guitar picks are pretty cheap, so grab a few different ones and see what works best for you!

5)  Strap – for posture, support and character!

Your guitar strap is a great accessory as the price range and variety of designs is enormous. From bands and artists, to cartoon characters, slogans, leather, suede – they all do the job, although a little extra padding is a great idea if you play a lot.

See our selection of guitar straps, from less than £6.

Click here to see part two…

 

How to choose a guitar for your child

It can seem quite scary when your child first shows an interest in playing guitar, especially if you don’t play yourself.  Here’s a handy guide to making sure you choose the perfect guitar for your child:

How much is it going to cost me?
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good beginner guitar. We offer beginner guitar packages starting from £39.95.

Remember smaller guitars will need up-sizing in 1-2 years anyway. By then you’ll know whether they’re serious about it and you can think about spending a bit more. Also, so many kids start and then give up, you’ll always make something back if you need to sell it on – just ask around at school. There’s bound to be someone else who would like to start.

What size should I buy?
Our rough guide to sizing is…

  • Age 4-6/7 = Half Size Guitar
  • Age 7-9 = 3/4 Size Guitar
  • Age 10+ = Full Size Guitar

However, it really depends on the size of your child! We also take into account other things like the size of their hands and the length of their arms.

You are welcome to bring your child in to enjoymuzic so we can tell you what size guitar will be right even if you’re not ready to buy yet. We’re open every day at Royal Quays, North Shields.

Steel or Nylon Strings?
Nylon string guitars (also called Spanish or Classical Guitars):

  • Originally meant for playing Classical and Folk music.
  • Used by most beginners up to age 10-12 because the strings don’t hurt the fingers too much.
  • Generally much cheaper to purchase.

 Steel String Guitars:

  • Sound better, particularly when playing modern/pop music.
  • Can hurt the fingers to start with but, on the plus side, the pads harden up much faster!
  • Ideal for teenage and adult beginners who want to play the music they listen to.

Even if your child is using an electric guitar in their lessons, most teachers will be happy for them to play an acoustic at home – the technique is very similar.

Or Electric?
Most parents have two concerns about electric guitars…

Isn’t it expensive?
Since you need an amplifier and other accessories, it does cost more than an acoustic, but many people are amazed to find we offer an Encore starter pack including everything you need for £139!

What about the noise?
There’s no need to worry about what the neighbours think! Most amps have the option of plugging in headphones like the Kinsman Classic Headphone set.

What about Lessons?
Many children first show an interest because the opportunity arises at school and this can be the easiest way to get access to lessons. However, there are other options. We can give you information about a range of local guitar teachers or if you are looking for a lower cost option, we recommend trying group guitar lessons at the Yamaha Music Point in North Shields.

It’s very hard to get an idea of whether a child is going to do well playing the guitar if they’re just trying at home. Another option is to start by asking a friend or relative to give them a few lessons and make sure the interest persists before you commit to paying for tuition.

Just ask…
If you’re not sure about the right size or style of guitar, the best thing to do before purchasing is to ask advice, either from the guitar teacher if you have one already, or come and talk to us – we’re always happy to help.

Of course, if you’re an adult beginner, most of this information is just the same for you – and it’s never too late to start!