www.guitarlessonsmaidstone.net 

 Unbeatable Value - Unbelievable Fun.

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John Booth

61 Lower Fant Road,

Maidstone, ME16 8DP

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Tel: 07570 131135

Unbeatable value & fun for your guitar lessons in Maidstone

Hi! My name is John Booth, and I would like to thank you for looking at my website. I have 20 years experience giving guitar lessons here in Maidstone and my

objective is to get you playing famous songs straight from the first lesson.  So if you want to play the Electric, Acoustic or Bass Guitar, you will soon be playing along with your favourite groups. It never fails to amaze me that some of the most famous songs of all time really are quite easy to play. So don't worry even if you are a complete beginner because with a few lessons you really will be able to play quite quickly.

A video about why students should come and lessons on the guitar with me here in Maidstone.

Who comes for lessons?

I have students of all ages from 10 years old to 65.  I teach a wide variety of songs and have 7 different levels ranging from absolute beginners to advanced so there should be something there for you. If you want to just play the chords or the bass line on the guitar so that you can sing along with the songs that's no problem but I also teach a lot of lead guitar where you can play the melody along with backing tracks. To see what some of my students say about the lessons simply click here.

Mat and myself playing together during a guitar lesson in Maidstone.
Joel learning a new song during his guitar lesson.

What do we play during the lessons?

I try to teach songs that you would know because it makes playing the song so much easier.  Even the absolute beginners’ guitar songs are not only well known but easy to play. I have about 350 songs in total that you can choose from and you can tell me in advance which songs you would like to learn in your next lesson.

I simply give you a copy of all the songs available at your level and you can choose which songs you want to play.

The Kaizer chiefs songs are often taught in the lessons.
This is the Oasis picture and we play a lot of their songs in the guitar lessons.
Coldplay is another group that we play a lot of their songs in the lessons.
Eric Clapton was known as god on the guitar so obviously we play a lot of his songs in the lessons.
Where do I give lessons?

I teach from a studio that was designed to teach the guitar.  The studio is fully air-conditioned so it's nice and cool in the summer.

I have over 30 guitars so if you play electric or acoustic guitar you don’t even have to bring your own. If you are coming straight from work or school it's much easier that you can just come into the studio and play one of my guitars. I try to make everything really simple so just walk in sit down and start to play!

Another question that I get asked a lot is "where are you based" so I have added a map to show exactly where I am. Basically, I am just off the Tonbridge road about 5 minutes from Maidstone town centre by car. If you are coming from the Barming side of town I am just about halfway between the Tesco Express petrol station and Rocky hill. In any case, I have included a map and you can just press + to zoom in.

The guitar studio in Maidstone where I teach both the acoustic and electric guitar.
Best Value for Money in Maidstone.

Many guitar teachers charge between £20 to £25 for an hour lesson.  This is simply too much for many students, and also it is difficult to keep your concentration for that long. 

 

I charge £9.95 for a 35 -minute guitar lesson. This is plenty of time to go through a new song without breaking the bank! 

My advert showing the price of the guitar lessons.

 Also, all the lessons are individual one-to-one private lessons. I tend not to teach groups as I want to focus all my attention on you the student and make sure that you get the maximum benefit out of the class. It can be very distracting If somebody is trying to play a new section of a song and somebody else is strumming some chords on their guitar. In my opinion, it is always better to have an individual class. With younger students, I do encourage parents to sit in on the lesson so that they can help their child when they get home.

David enjoying his individual guitar lesson in Maidstone at my studio.

Another advantage of coming here is that at the end of the lesson I will play the song bit by bit and you can take a video of the whole song on your smartphone. In this way you get:

1) A paper copy of the song written out by myself in a really easy form.

2) A full video of the song so that can just remind yourself of how the song is played if you forget after the lessons. 

3) Of course, you can then build yourself a video library of all the songs that we have played together and look over them if you need to be reminded of how any of the songs go.

 

What my students say about " Guitar Lessons Maidstone"

This is a note that one of my students sent me talking about his experiences at " Guitar Lessons Maidstone". Andy had already played the guitar for quite a while before he came but just wanted to improve some points of technique and take his guitar playing to another level. This is what he said:-

Should I learn the acoustic guitar?

This is one of the main questions you have to ask yourself when beginning. There are lots of advantages of learning the acoustic guitar to start off with:-

1) Very quickly you can play along to a tremendous number of songs with just a few chords. Just learn 4 or 5 chords and this really does open the door to many of the most famous songs over the past 40 years.

2) Once you have mastered a few songs you can play along with your friends at parties, BBQs or just simply on your own. It's great fun to get everybody involved and sing and play some famous songs.

3) When you start to play the acoustic guitar you don't need an amp, cables or any effects pedals. It's simple to take your guitar away with you and you don't need to bring lots of extras.

4) There are now lots of shapes and sizes of acoustic guitars at unbelievable prices. For a £100.00 you can get yourself a guitar that is going to last you for years once it is properly set up.

5) For the list of songs that you can learn on the acoustic guitar simply click the link.

Emma playing her new guitar during her weekly guitar lesson.
Should I learn the electric guitar?
Me explaining the advantages of learning the electric guitar.

Playing the electric guitar likewise has many advantages and I have listed some below:-

1) Firstly if the guitar is set up correctly it is very easy to hold the chords down. The strings tend to be much closer to the fretboard and not so thick so the pressure you have to put on the string to hold them down is obviously much less. For somebody just starting off, this can make a really big difference and boost your confidence a lot.

2) If you like "Rock Music" then there is not much point playing the acoustic guitar. I really believe after teaching the guitar for twenty years you should choose the guitar for the type of music you like. 

3) when you play the electric guitar you can play the lead or the chords. A lot of the most famous rock songs have really few notes in the part you can remember so it is amazingly encouraging to play really famous songs that sound unplayable within a few weeks.

4) Of course, there are hundreds of pedals that you can get for the electric guitar so getting virtually any sound you want is easy. Today you can even simply buy one unit and that will allow you to get a mixture of sounds, delay, chorus and even a drum beat out of one little box! Amazing!

5) Lastly, you can play the electric guitar anytime and anywhere. You can practice on the electric guitar just like an acoustic but without plugging it into an amp. This means you can practice in the evening without annoying anybody else. This really is a super massive advantage.

For the list of songs that you can learn on the electric guitar simply click the link.

Neil having a great time in his guitar lesson.
Should I learn the
Bass guitar?
In this video I talk about the advantages of playing the bass guitar and why for a lot of students it's a really good choice.

Playing the bass guitar for Many students is some they have always wanted to do and I have listed some of the major advantages below:-

1) Of the three types of guitar that I teach the bass guitar is by far the easiest. There are obviously only four strings and there is much more room for your fingers. I have often found that people who work in the trades tend to have very large fingers so the bass guitar is really a good option for them. 

2) Because the bass guitar really follows the chord progressions most students can make much more progress in a much shorter time. Many of the really famous songs have a relatively simple chord structure so to play the bass along with these songs is not difficult. Also if you only have a little time to practice the bass is a good option.

3) I think the sound of the bass has an attraction for many students and it does look quite cool when you play it. I think it is one of those instruments that has to fit in with the character of the student.

            For the list of acoustic songs that you can learn on the Bass guitar simply click the link.

                     For the list of electric songs that you can learn on the Bass guitar simply click the link.

Antony and Inga playing together during their guitar lesson.
When do I give lessons?

As well as being a guitar teacher here in Maidstone I am also a professional guitarist and play mainly in London. I therefore tend to teach at the beginning of the week and this helps me combine everything nicely.

 

Teaching Timetable

Days     times

Monday                9 am until 9 pm

Tuesday                9 am until 9 pm

Wednesday            9 am until 9 pm

Thursday               9 am until 9 pm

Saturday               9 am until 1 pm

 

As you can see I teach all day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays Thursday and then a half-day on Saturdays. So if you work at night there is no problem for you to come in the day and obviously, students who work or go to school from 9 am to 5 pm can come in the evenings.

Then on Saturdays, I do 4 hours in the morning.

Eddie concentrating hard while playing his favourite guitar song during his lesson.
Example 1 of the songs we play in the lessons.
This is one of the most popular songs that we learn on the electric guitar in the lessons. "Sultans of swing" by Dire Straits.

Technique is really important?

Over the years I have seen many students making simple mistakes in technique, which holds them back from playing their favourite songs. I will show you how to hold and play the guitar in the correct manner. 

 

If you get it right from the beginning it will make playing the more advanced songs so much easier but If you have to go back and try to re-learn how to hold the guitar at the right angle and hold the plectrum correctly this can be very very frustrating.

 

So it is far better to get things right at the beginning and then making progress on the guitar will be that much easier.

Christmas and Birthday gifts?

Many people find it difficult to buy a present for their partner that they really want.  If your partner plays the guitar, why not buy them some guitar lessons for Christmas or their birthday?

 

I will show them how to hold the guitar correctly and then get them playing their favourite songs right from their first lesson.

 

In just a few lessons it is possible to get some of those old mistakes ironed out, or just start with some great songs.

 

I can even personalise the vouchers.

This is a christmas voucher that you can buy a loved one for their present.
Example 2 of the songs we play in the lessons.
One of the popular acoustic songs that we play in the guitar lessons. "Brown eyed girl". Students always are amazed at how easy it is to learn.
Accessories?

There are literally thousands of picks to chose from. Plectrums come in all shapes and sizes.

Most students get given a plectrum which is far too big and makes it very difficult to play quickly.

I have hundreds of picks and will help you to choose the correct one for your guitar.

A variety of plectrums that we use in the guitar lessons.

The first thing to do when you get your guitar is to put a new set of strings on it.

The chances are that the strings will be corroded or at best really dirty.

I will tell you about the different types available so that you can get the exact sound that you like.

New guitar strings are a must when you start guitar lessons. This shows the types of guitar strings that you can choose from.

In order to hold the guitar at the right angle, you really need to play with a strap.

I sell top quality leather straps at a price that you will not find anywhere else.

I even sell guitar shoulder pads that really make playing the guitar far more comfortable.

Example 3 of the songs we play in the lessons.
"Sultans of Swing" played on the acoustic guitar. Another example of the kind of songs that we play in the lessons here in Maidstone.
Common Student queries.

1) Am I too old to start learning the guitar?

 

The answer to this is definitely not. A lot of people have wanted to play the guitar their whole lives but simply have not had the chance. Maybe they have had very busy jobs or the family has taken up a lot of their time. I have had lots of students who have started to learn the guitar when they retired and these have been some of my best students. They have waited a long time to play so they give it their all. Don't give up on a dream just because of your age!

 

 

 

Stephen concentrating hard on his bass guitar learnig a new song during his weekly guitar lesson.

2) My children are still at primary school but want to have guitar lessons. Are they too young?

 

The answer is absolutely not. If you look on YouTube there are some amazing young children playing the guitar but there are a couple of things to bear in mind.

 

A) A young child's hand is not very strong so their guitar needs to be set up so it is very easy for the child to play the instrument. If the strings are very high off the fretboard the child is going to have a difficult job holding down the chords.

 

B) My advice is to go to a proper music shop and get a guitar that not only fits the body of the child but is easy to play. Over the years I have seen so many young children start but they have almost been defeated before they begin because the guitar has been bought from a chain store or a charity shop and the guitar is not really in any condition to play it. The natural result is the child gives up and that is really sad.

 

 

alexander's guitar lessons.
robert's guitar lesson .

3) Should I follow your practice routine?

 

I really hope that you do try to practice what we have learnt in the lessons most days. Before teaching the guitar I taught the TEFL Cambridge exam system abroad. I did this for years and this is what I have based my whole guitar teaching system around. Basically, all the songs that you will learn are assigned a level of which there are 7. When you initially come for a lesson I will agree with you the level that we are going to start. Then it's simply a matter of playing those songs and then you move up to the next level. But of course you are going to want to try some of your own favourite songs and that is only natural. So if you practice a combination of my songs which we learn in the class and your songs then you will get the best results.

 

 

Antony and his dad in his weekly guitar lesson with his new fender guitar.

4) Do I have to buy a set number of lessons from you or can I pay as I go?

 

The answer is really up to you. If you definitely want to reserve the same time each week then I would suggest that you buy a months lessons at one time. We can then fill in the dates and the times and you are definitely booked in. The slot is yours.

However many people now work split shift patterns and it is not possible to come at the same time and day every week. In this case, I would simply book one lesson in advance. I will try and fit you into the closest slot that you want. 

 

 

MONTHLY GUITAR CLASS INVOICE.

5) What happens if I can't make my next guitar lesson?

 

If you are going on holiday or can tell me a week in advance that you can not make your next class I do not charge a cancellation fee. 

 

However, if you cancel within 24 hours of the lessons I think it's only fair to pay for half the fee. Usually, at this late stage, I can not fill the slot and by doing this we both contribute to the loss of earnings.

 

 

Peter and Jim in their guitar lesson here in Maidstone.

6) I really want to play the guitar but I have long nails. Will I have to cut them?

 

The is something that I am asked all the time by female students. Unfortunately, the answer is that it is impossible to play the guitar correctly with long nails. Your fingers have to come down directly onto the fretboard as in the picture and this is absolutely impossible if your nails are not short. Sorry!

 

 

7) I want to learn the guitar but I am left-handed. Is that a problem?

 

No, not at all. I have had plenty of students who were/are left-handed and there is no problem at all. Everything is exactly the same, just the other way round. Jimi Hendrix played the guitar left-handed and he did just fine!

 

 

Mike having his weekly guitar class on the electric guitar..

8) I have had quite a few lessons but I don't seem to be improving. Why not?

 

I think that there are a few reasons why students think like this:

A) Today everybody wants everything yesterday. The growth of technology and the internet has made it in many ways that you can get what you want much faster. Everybody tells you that if you take my course you can learn the guitar in a month, or in a year. 

I'm afraid in most cases this just isn't true. When it comes to learning something like the guitar it does take a long time and it just requires some patience. 

In the old days when students started to learn the guitar, they expected it to take a long time so their expectations were correct. Today everybody wants everything immediately and unfortunately, that is just unrealistic.

B) I believe that the second major reason why students don't progress as quickly as they had hoped is because of practice. I am a professional guitarist and have been for 20 years, but I still play for at least 3 hours a day. 

Many Students have jobs where they are working long hours or staying away from home entirely. Also, there are so many more options for people to do today. They might want to go bowling, go to London, go out to a restaurant or watch a movie. The best way to improve quickly on the guitar is to practice every day. You don't need to practice for hours like me but 20 minutes is a minimum. 

If you don't play there is very little chance that you will make quick progress even if you come to the lessons. So just pick your guitar up and start playing more!

 

 

9) How often should I come to lessons?

After teaching for nearly 20 Years it's clear that the minimum number of classes you should take a week is one. Some students have asked in the past if they could come every two weeks and my answer is this is not a good idea. 

The reason for this is quite often they might be away on that second week and then two weeks becomes three weeks or even four.

 

If this situation arises there is not really any point in taking guitar lessons because there is going to be virtually no improvement.

If you come once a week you get into a routine and then things really will improve!

10) Do I have to learn music theory or use sheet music?

The answer to this is it really depends on what you want out of the lessons.

In the old days, students did learn music theory and did learn to play from properly written out manuscript scores, but today most students use a much easier system which is Called "Tab". I have to say that most students who come for lessons just want to play the guitar as quickly as possible and thus getting bogged down in music theory isn't what they want. 

11) I've tried to learn the guitar lots of time before but it's never worked. Why will it be any different with you?

First of all, I have a total of over 25 years as a teacher. I taught other subjects before the guitar.  The one thing I have learnt is that everything has to be right for you to want to play the guitar:

1) You've got to have a guitar that you like and is set up well.

2) You've got to play songs that you want to play. You simply will not practice if you are just doing scales or chords. You've got to feel that desire to pick the guitar up and play every day even if it's just for 15 minutes.

3) You've got to have fun in the lessons and enjoy coming and learning the new songs.

I will try my best to make sure that all these conditions are put in place and then you will have the best chance ever to really play the guitar.

Dean rocking it during his weekly guitar lesson.

12) How can I change the chords and play faster?

This is a question that comes up literally all the time. I would say the most frustrating thing for a new player is that they can not change the chords quickly and they just can't understand why.

The answer comes from the past. When people used to learn to touch type they used to use a scarf to blindfold themselves.

Well, today we don't need to do that we can simply buy a sleeping mask. I as a professional guitarist practice all the time with a sleeping mask and this helps you know your way around the fretboard like nothing else. Instead of your eyes being glued to the fretboard eventually you will be able to play without even looking at the guitar. It will just come naturally. 

Of course, it feels a bit weird at first but you will soon get used to it and hear the benefits when you are playing the guitar.

Practicing the guitar wearing a mask is the best way to improve. It improves your muscle memory and you will soon find yourself playing with much more confidence.

13) How can I practice the guitar at night it's too noisy?

This is one of the fallacies that are most prevalent about the guitar. Playing at night is actually very easy:

A) Acoustic Guitar. Simply get a duster and roll it up and then slide it under the strings. This will completely deaden the sound and you will not annoy anybody no matter what time it is.

B) With the electric guitar, it is even easier. Simply don't plug the guitar in and just play it unamplified. When I am travelling up to London On the train I do this all the time and none of the passengers has ever complained.

The second option is simply to plug your electric guitar into a small amp and then simply plug your headphones into the amp. The guitar will sound perfect but nobody will hear it. You can even plug your backing tracks into the amp and the sound will be amazing.

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14) Will you come to my house to give lessons?

The short answer to this is that I think it is far better for my students to come to the guitar studio here.

The reasons for this are:-

1) Because I don't have to travel I can offer a much lower fee. At £9.95 per lessons, I am much more affordable than any other guitar teacher in Maidstone. If I had to travel then the price would have to be at least double the current fee that I charge.

2) All the equipment is set up in a dedicated studio, so if you suddenly decide you want to play another song or do something different I can quickly adjust to that. If I was not here that would be impossible.

To see how easy it is to come to "Guitar Lessons Maidstone" simply click this link and have a look at the map and the video.

Matt learning a new song during his weekly guitar lesson at "Guitar Lessons Maidtone".
Example 4 of the songs we play in the lessons.
Demonstration by me playing " Money for Nothing " on the electric guitar in the guitar lesson.

15) What is a capo for and how do I fix it to the guitar?

A capo is one of the most useful pieces of equipment that you can have when you are starting to learn the guitar. What it allows you to do is play the chords all the way up the fretboard without having to play bar chords.

When you start to play your hand muscles are not strong enough and so the capo does most of the hard work for you.

There are lots of different kinds of Capos but when putting it onto the guitar be a little careful.

If it is too lose it will not hold the strings down and thus won't be of any help.

If the capo is too tight you will have problems closing the bracket and this could damage the neck of the guitar.

The way you know it is fitting properly is that there should be a small snapping sound when you click the bracket shut and then everything will be perfect.

16) How difficult is it to change a guitar string.

The answer to this is that it is really quite easy if you know how to do it. Unfortunately, most students really have little idea and this leads them to break strings or put them on in such a way that it is going to be difficult to tune the guitar. I have therefore made a short video to show all my students how a string should be changed. I hope it helps.

This video shows students how to change a string on an acoustic guitar.

17) How do I learn to improvise on the guitar?

To play Jazz/Rock guitar is obviously not easy. You can follow the basic melody of the song but then the question is how do you do the improvisations. 

The easiest way to do this is to learn some simple patterns like the blues pentatonic scales and then play mini patterns within these. 

There are lots of patterns to learn and then it is basically a question of linking the patterns together so that it all sounds natural.

I really believe that once you have learnt a few patterns the best thing to do is put on a few simple backing tracks and then try and make up some lead melodies against these.

However, it is not easy and it is more of a feeling and having the technical ability to play runs up and down the fretboard. 

It's going to take time but if you want to play jazz or rock guitar simply pick up your guitar and have a go!

Me demonstrating to a student how to improvise on a beautiful Jazz guitar.

18) I get really nervous about playing the guitar in front of other people, (even you in the lessons). How can I learn to relax?

This is not an easy one to solve. The reality is that most guitar greats still get nervous after years and years of touring so don't think that you are alone. 

To put yourself in front of a group of people and play the guitar is really not an easy thing and the only way to get around this is by doing it as much as possible no matter how difficult it seems.

Start off by just playing one song and then build it up from there.

What I do is go down to Maidstone nearly every day and do all my practice in the town. If you can play in that environment it is going to make you a much stronger guitar player who can cope with nearly anything! Just give it a go and see what happens.

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This is me practicing the guitar infront of a large crowd in Maidstone.

19) I have just started to play the guitar and my fingertips hurt and have grooves in them. Is this normal?

When you first start to play the guitar this is perfectly normal. Our hands are really quite soft and don't have a lot of strength so it is natural that at the beginning students find it a bit painful. But don't worry your fingers will quickly toughen up and after a bit, you will not even notice it when you hold the strings down.

This shows what happens when students start lessons on the guitar and they get grooves from the strings on their fingertips.

20) Why do some guitars have a black line on the back of their necks?

This line is known as a skunk line and is extremely important. What it does is give you a guide as to where your thumb should be positioned on the back of the guitar neck. Quite often students play with their thumbs way to high on the back of the guitar and this causes them to have very little stretch with their fingers on the front of the guitar. The moto is " Thumb low and fingers high ". If you learn to play like this you will be able to play the guitar with much more agility.

This picture shows the skunk line on the back of an electric guitar. This line is very important as it shows you where to position your thumb.

21) I can't hold the bar chords down when playing the guitar. Is there an exercise that you can recommend?

There is a very easy way to strengthen your bar chord playing. Simply look at the picture below and put a squash ball between your thumb and your first finger. Make sure that your thumb and first finger and absolutely straight and not supported by your other fingers. Then simply squeeze the squash ball gently 10 to 20 times. After a week or so your bar chords will sound much better.

Making your hand stronger to hold down bar chords on your guitar more easily.

22) I can not stretch my fingers enough to play some of the solos on the guitar. How can I fix this?

This is a really common problem when learning the guitar. It's really not usual to have to stretch your finger so far. However, there is a really easy solution. Just take 3 squash balls and place them between the fingers that you play the chords with. Then wiggle your fingers around. It will hurt at first but after a few days, you will find a massive improvement in your guitar playing.

Strecting your fingers to be able to play bar chords and solos more easily on the guitar.

23) Why do I have to play bar chords on the guitar?

The reason is that different styles of music sound better played with different chord shapes. For example, Folk Music tends to sound better with open chords, whereas Pop and jazz songs tend to sound better on the guitar played with bar chords. Also, the bar chords allow you to build in a much more distinct rhythm into your playing and also allow you to play in many different positions on the guitar neck.

bar chord position on the guitar neck.
August guitar lesson offer.
Special August offer. 5 guitar lessons for the price of 4.

Why not take advantage of this great offer during August. For this month only get " 5 guitar lessons for the price of 4 ". This means for just £38.90 you will have five 30 minute one-to-one guitar lessons. Simply call me now to take advantage of this offer. Thanks, John.

Frank practicing a new song on his new acoustic guitar.

24) How can I stop feedback on my acoustic guitar?

This is a really common question when students are playing an acoustic guitar through an amp. Basically, the sound coming from the amp goes back through the soundhole of the guitar and builds up a circuit that gets louder and louder.

Luckily there is a very simple solution. Simply fit a squeal buster ( as in the picture below) to your acoustic guitar and the problem will go away!

Fitting a squeal buster to a student's acuostic guitar to stop feedback occuring.

25) Where should I keep my guitar?

There is only one answer to this and that Is where you spend most of your time in the house. You want to be able to see your guitar and have it in a place where you can pick it up easily and start to play straight away. The one place you definitely don't want to put your guitar is in a case where it is hidden away because the chances of you picking it up to play are very small. I have two guitars next to the TV so I can just sit on the sofa and start practising.

The picture shows where I keep my guitars to practice. Next to the TV and the sofa so that I can pick them up at any time and start playing.

26) What are the differences between a Spanish guitar and a normal acoustic? Which should I choose?

A. The big difference is in the strings. A normal acoustic guitar has steel strings whereas a Spanish guitar has nylon strings. This really makes a big difference to the sound. The Spanish guitar has a warmer more mellow sound whereas the acoustic has much more attack to it and is louder.

b. The second big difference is the width of the fretboard. A Spanish guitar is much wider and thus if you have a big hand this can be an advantage. Acoustic guitars tend to have much slimmer fretboards which can be tricky if you have large hands.

Which type of guitar you choose really depends on the style of songs that you are going to play and which Sound you prefer.

27) Why is it important for me to play the guitar with the "claw "position.

The answer to this is simple. If you do not wrap your hand around the guitar neck in a claw-like position your fingers will not come down onto the fretboard vertically. If your finger ends aren't straight then you will have a big problem playing the guitar without the strings buzzing. You will also deaden out certain strings when you try to play chords. Getting your fingers into the claw position right from the beginning is going to save you a lot of difficulties later.

The claw position is really important for you to get a clean sound when you are playing your guitar. If you don't play like this picture your will get a lot of buzzing when you are playing.

28) What is the difference between a Gibson style electric guitar and a Fender-style electric?

As you can see in the photograph the main difference between the guitars is the pickup set up. The Fender style guitar has a single coil pick up. This tends to give you a clearer and brighter sound.

As you can see with a Gibson guitar you tend to have two pickups together and these are known as Humbucker pickups. This style tends to give you a deeper and more mellow sound. These pickups are usually prefered by Rock and Jazz guitarists.

Gibson style electric guitar compared to a Fender style electric guitar.

29) Why is it important to play the classical guitar with a footstool?

The answer is because it is very difficult to play the classical guitar and it is generally smaller than a standard acoustic. You are playing both the melody and the chords and without very good Technique there is very little chance that you will play well. The other point is that you really need a big stretch on the fretboard and without the guitar being held at the correct angle and height this will be difficult. The footstool helps you get that extra height when playing the guitar and thus your fingers will be in a much better position. Just look at me playing in the photo below to see what I mean.

30) When do I know when it is time to change my guitar strings?

The answer to this is simple. Just look at the picture below and you will see how dark and dirty the bottom string has become. This is because dirt and grease from your fingers has built up while you have been playing your guitar. Also, this string will sound very dull because it has been played so much. 

All your strings should look shiny and new and sound bright. If they don't it is time to change the strings. 

If you are worried about changing your strings simply head over to the repairs, setups and servicing page for details.

This picture shows how my students know when it is time to change their guitar strings. As you can see in the picture the string at  the bottom is very dirty and dull. Time for a new string.
Chris playing on his new guitar at "Guitar Lessons Maidstone ".

31) If I am going away on holiday, business or don't play the guitar for a long time what should I do with my guitar?

There are a couple of golden tips here:-

1) Definitely keep the guitar out of direct sunlight. If a guitar gets very warm you can warp and bend the neck. This would be a disaster as then you have to try and straighten the neck with clamps. So it's going to be expensive and time-consuming.

2) Definitely loosen the strings on the guitar because this will relax the tension on the guitar neck. If you leave a guitar fully tuned up for a long time then the result is that you are going to bow the neck, so the guitar will be much harder to play and also never really be in tune.

Tom practising his chord changes on his guitar while wearing a blind fold.

32) I'm just starting the guitar. Should I buy a new or second-hand guitar?

This is a difficult one to answer because there are so many great deals on new guitars at the moment. You can easily buy a new guitar for under a hundred pounds and it's going to look great. The only problem with buying new guitars is that you are probably going to have to get it set up as the strings are usually too high above the fretboard. This means that it is going to be harder to play chords because your hand strength is going to have to develop a lot more.

If you buy a second-hand guitar you will usually find that it has been set up and is easier to play. Of course, you are not going to have the excitement of opening a new box but you are usually going to find a guitar that is much easier to play. I do sell second-hand guitars to my students and all of these are amazingly easy to play as I have made all the adjustments myself. The picture below shows you just a sample of some of the guitars that I have for sales right now.

 

Steve is one of my oldest students and he really loves playing the acoustic guitar.

33) I've just bought a guitar do I need to buy a case for it?

The answer to this is definitely yes. When you have a new guitar the last thing you want to do is damage it when you are taking it around. I have many customised paint jobs on my guitars and I can assure you there is a great amount of sorrow when you don't put the guitar in a case because you are in a hurry and then damage it. 

There are lots of types of cases but I would suggest two:-

1) A padded gig bag but pad it out with foam rubber as in the picture to give the guitar extra protection. 

2) A stylophone guitar case. These are great because they weigh virtually nothing but at the same time have a hard shell. They also have straps on so you can wear them like a rucksack.

This picture shows the best kind of guitar cases.
This is James during his weekly guitar lesson playing my glass guitar.

34) Should I use backing tracks when learning the guitar?

The answer to this is absolutely yes. One of the biggest problems that I find when my students learn songs is that they get the timing wrong.  They are unable to keep a constant rhythm and speed up or slow down at different parts of the song. Using a legal backing track will ensure that you play the guitar at a constant rhythm. 

35) How high should the strings be on my guitar so that is easy for me to play?

This is a really important point because on most new guitars the strings are simply too high. This means that you are going to have to have a very strong hand to hold any chords down

Basically, on the thick low E string, the difference between the top of the fret and the bottom of the string should not exceed 2mm at the twelfth fret. 

On the thin top E string, there should be no more than 1.75 mm from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string on the 12th fret.

If your guitar looks like the one below the strings are too high and need to be taken down.

Very high action on an acoustic guitar. This is going to make the guitar very difficult to play.
Matt playing the glass guitar during his

36) What practice amp would you recommend for the electric guitar?

There are lots of practice amps on the market but for me, the best one by far is the Blackstar mini fly 3. This amp is no bigger than a small radio but really sounds great. It is 3 watt has multiple effects on it, allows for an MP3 player to be attached and also has a headphone socket.

The amp runs off 6 AA batteries ( which last forever ) and is small enough for you to put in a rucksack, small case, or just put on a shelf at home. Even better you can buy a second speaker at a really low price and play everything in stereo.

Just go onto YouTube and look at some of the reviews. They're great!

The Blackstar practice guitar amp.
Andrew really enjoying his guitar lesson.

37) How do I keep my strings shiny and new?

This is one of the best tips and I was told about it by a guitar technician years ago.

Pre-injection alcohol wipes will strip away the dirt and grime that has built up on your strings and will leave them looking like new. You can buy them on eBay and they are super cheap. Use one wipe for the bottom 3 strings and then another for the top strings. Just look at the picture below to see how effective they are!

This shows the best way to clean your guitar strings. Alcohol wipes do a great job and are super cheap.

38) What is palm muting?

This is a super useful way to change the sound of your guitar. If you always play in the same way it can become a little boring. Palm-muting allows you to have a deaded sound which cuts out all the reverb from the guitar. Simply rest your palm on top of the bridge and the strings as in the picture and you will find a totally different sound is produced.

How to use the palm muting method on your guitar.

39) How should I really hold the guitar to make it easy to learn?

Just look at the picture below and you will see the ideal position to play the guitar.

1. Have the guitar angled at about 30 degrees. This will stop you from having to twist your wrist and it will make playing feel much more natural.

2. Keep your fingers rounded so that they come down directly onto the strings. This will stop you from hitting other strings by mistake.

3. Always play one finger one fret. This means that you should always cover four frets at a time and thus you won't have to move your hand so much.