Learn Guitar this May Half Term!

Learning Guitar can be fun and rewarding. So why not give it a try this half term?

Half Term Half Price

This May half term we are offering 50% OFF your first lesson with us. You can come and have a lesson with us for as little as £6.25!

You don't even need a Guitar. We have Guitars at Guitar Academy you can use for your lesson.

Non promotion lessons are priced at £12.50 per 30 minutes. 

To book simply get in contact!

Click Here to Email Us

Or Call us on 01730 858 219

Which Guitar Should I Buy?

Introduction

Being a Guitar Tutor at Guitar Academy Petersfield I get asked a lot about Guitar and Amp purchases. Unfortunately the answer can sometimes be compared to 'how long is a piece of string?'. Either way I thought I would write some top tips of what to look for when buying a Guitar for the first time or the 100th time. Also I have some recommendations for your first Guitar.

Things to Look For

  • Build Quality - Is the instrument well constucted?
  • Has the neck got an S shape in it? - This is fairly uncommon for new guitars but worth checking. Simply look from the back of the bridge of the guitar down the neck. You should see a relief in the neck (neck pointing forwards slightly) but no S shape or Curve in the neck. This is a problem. Unlikely but worth a check.
  • Action - how high are the strings from the fretboard? If its quite high it could be a sign of neck issues or poor set up. It should be at a playable and comfortable height. So give it a whirl and see if you can play it without any struggle. Action can also be too low and struggle to produce a consistent tone.
  • Buzzing - Every electric guitar and acoustic will buzz a little bit. But there are normal buzz noises and bad buzz noises. Simply play every single note on every single fret on every string. One after another and listen for any dramatic changes in the note in regards to buzzing. If you hit one of these notes that sounds way off or different then there might be a fret problem somewhere.
  • Check the frets - Check them for dings, notches, grooves make sure they all look good.
  • Inspect the wood - Check it over look for cracks, dry bits or distressed areas. 
  • Tone and Volume - Check any electric or moving components. Plug into an amp and listen for any noise and check the connections are good. If you hear a crackle. This is usually just some dust in the Pots. This can be solved with some Servisol.

Is It Right for You?

  • Go to a shop and play as many different Guitars as possible. When choosing a Guitar make sure you choose one that feels comfortable for you to play. We all have preferences and different size hands and many other variables. So the right Guitar is simply the one that feels easy for you to play.
  • Sound - When trying out an Electric Guitar make sure the amp sounds are set to a neutral setting to get an idea of how the Guitar sounds. If you have an amp at home make sure you try out the Guitar using an amp similar to yours. If you are testing an acoustic make sure you are not in a place / room with a lot of natural reverb. Everything sounds great with Reverb... sometimes.
  • Does it have all the features you want? - This goes for Guitar and Amps. If you know nothing and starting from scratch then keep it simple. If you are particually looking for a trem such as a floyd rose make sure you do your research first.

Be Careful Online

Be careful when buying a Guitar online. Especially if this is the first time you are buying a Guitar. Sometimes reviews are not enough or a true representation of the quality of an instrument.

Good Guitars are not cheap but Good Guitars also do not have to cost the earth. Sometimes its safer to make your own judgement and see the item in person. Also sometimes it pays to stick to a brand name. I often get some customers that buy unbranded Guitars from EBAY or Amazon and they are literally the worst. Difficult to play and poorly made. Not saying every Guitar or Ebay and Amazon is this way but just be careful. You know the saying.. 'Buy Cheap Buy Twice'. (I have often falling foul of this but luckily not with Guitars).

 

Gigs and Pay to Play

Pay to play is something that is often talked about on the internet and a practice this is employed by some gig promoters.

If you are a band and you are asked to pay a fee to play a gig then you need to seriously think is this gig worth doing. Most of the time the answer is no. Only on extremely rare (and I mean extremely rare occasions) should you consider to pay to play a show.

The pay to play concept should not be confused with promoters asking you as a band to help sell tickets to your fans. Some smaller gigs and promoters will ask bands to help sell tickets to their fans and receive a commission on sales instead of receiving payment for a show. This is still employed by promoters putting on lesser known original acts. 

This is not a bad thing. To be honest if you are playing your own material and getting out on the scene and doing some support slots this practice is the most common you will probably encounter. You should only demand a fee if you have invested in building a significant following or invested in noteworthy marketing.

However you should not be expected to sell a specific number of tickets.

Small promoters are taking a gamble by putting on unknown acts. Which is fine its their choice. However if you expect a fee when you have not invested in developing your own following then your unlikely to be attractive to promoters. 

The other option is to simply put on the event yourself. Hire the venue and promote your own performance. Then you are in control. Most small venues allow you to hire and put on your own night.

Promoters will do their best in promoting your gig. But as mentioned they do gamble on unknown acts and commonly do not offer a fee for every band that plays. Typically only a commission.

Best advice is to put on your own shows and definitely invest in marketing your band. Treat it like a business and forget the cost of rehearsals as part of your investment. Your rehearsals help you develop your product but do not offer anything in appeal to promoters of other clients.

This is a sensitive subject amongst bands.

Is there a formula for a hit song?…. possibly

An ongoing subject in many songwriting blogs, articles and books as to whether there is a formula for a hit song and the typical conclusion is no. However their are some interesting considerations that can be taken on board when songwriting to potentially make your song hit worthy.

The digital revolution in regards to streaming, downloading and production of music has created a wealth of data that many musicians can use to effectively market their music to their key demographic. But this data can also produce some interesting facts about the songs construction and tonality.

For example Spotify regularly on its blog displays insights relating to the music distributed on their platform. One statistic in particular is the popular keys of songs on its database. Below is a graph that shows the typical keys of songs. In conclusion from looking at this graph you could determine that the most popular key of a song is G major.

Chord Progressions

Its also not a secret that many popular songs use the same chord structure as shown in this video. Remember not all songs are in the same key but this video does reveal a surprising insight into the chord structure that is commonly applied.

Axis of Awesome – Four Chord Song

Audio Insights

This video below is an interesting insight into commonly applied melodies and phrasing. Moving from the 5th to the 3rd interval. An observation that has been noticed in many popular hit songs. 

Possibly something worth applying to your songwriting?

The Millennial Whoop

Genre Statistics

Spotify also reveal some surprising statistics in regards to genres and fanbases. This kind of data is great when considering the style of a piece of music you wish to create (if purely aiming for the most popular) or even help towards developing your marketing campaign when promoting your work. The graph below creates a visual demonstrate of fan loyalty by genre. 

If developing a marketing campaign it is well worth doing some research using some of the insights scattered across Spotifys blog. This type of free information can help you make some important decisions for marketing and get your music towards to your key listeners. 

Authors Conclusion

I intend to update this article over time and share some more observations and insights of my own as well as what I find on the internet. I feel this information that is available to us as musicians can help us make key decisions as songwriters and music publishers. We commonly use data to help us move forward and make marketing decisions in music but its also interesting to consider whether this data when making some key decisions about our songwriting.

Thanks for stopping by.

Students in Industry: Will Gilchrist

Check out Konsole on Soundcloud

Students moving into industry

Will Gilchrist was a former student at Guitar Academy in Petersfield who has recently moved on to study music full time. He is currently involved in many projects and moving into a career into the music industry. We recently caught up with Will who took part in this short interview. 

 

Introducing Will Gilchrist

What are you doing now? Where you studying and what course?

I am in my third year studying Music Performance and Recording at the London College of Music (University of West London) .

Are you in a band at the moment or done any recording work?

I am currently a keyboard player in a five piece indie/new wave band called 'Konsole'. We also have our single 'Havana' on spotify.

I have also played in several university projects for my classmates.

Why did you start playing guitar?

I was completely influenced to pick up a guitar by watching Mark Knopfler play with Dire Straits on a DVD of 'Live Aid'. I was also constantly exposed to The Shadows as a child due to my Dad being a fan, and found 'Wonderful Land' and 'Apache' also influenced me to start playing.

What are your main influences?

My main influences in terms of guitar playing would be Mark Knopfler, Hank Marvin, George Harrison.

Other influences include Roy Bitton, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Clarence Clemons, John Williams.

Plans for your future in music?

My plan is to graduate and write music for TV and Film, I am a big fan of film music and have achieved my highest grade this year from the 'Music for the Moving Image' Module. I would also like to have a band on the side if possible.

Did you find your lessons at guitar academy beneficial? if so why?

Yes indeed. I always struggled with the theory side of music (especially scales) but with my lessons at the guitar academy I was not only able to learn the scales but also learn how to use them, and which musical situations they are appropriate. This was the case with every theory struggle I had and being able to actually use certain chords/scales/modes helped me learn a lot better.

I'm currently finishing my final projects of Live Sound, Music Management. There's also a Recording Project in which I'm studying into live recordings and musical chemistry between ensembles, and a Performance project in which I'm putting together an indie rock band with a horn section, in the hope of improving my skills as an arranger.

 

Practice Tips: Slowing Down Audio

Slow down audio

In this video we will show you a cool and free resource you can use to slow down the audio in a youtube video. This helps you when practicing playing along to tracks and perfecting your performance and phrasing of difficult parts.www.youtubeslow.com

Guitar Academy welcomes its first european student

This week we have had the pleasure to welcome our first student from another country. Travelling over 2000 miles to come learn with us from Bulgaria. Our newest client has spent a week with us preparing for a Rockschool qualification.

We are very pleased and excited to welcome a student outside of our usual catchment and welcome him all the best in his musical future.

 

Little Mix Black Magic Guitar Lesson Free

In this FREE video guitar lesson I will teach you how to play 'Black Magic' by Little Mix. Simply a random song from the UK top 40 at the moment. Easy to follow hope you enjoy.

There are two versions. One is an edit as one of the videos is banned in some countries due to copyright reasons.

Guitar Lesson Video