How to get your pick out of your acoustic guitar right now

So annoying
I know how annoying it is when you drop your pick into your acoustic guitar or even worse someone else posts it in there for you (small children). Here’s is how to get it straight out again in two easy steps.
Step 1
Hold your guitar horizontally, look down into the sound hole and shake it until you can see the pick. Then by shaking it gently manoeuvre the pick until it is about an inch (3 cm) past the centre of the sound hole.
Step 2
Hold it by the neck and at the far end of the body and then suddenly rotate it 180 degrees really fast but without moving it up or down.
The pick should just drop out. If it doesn’t,  a gentle shake while it is upside down is sometimes necessary.  If this doesn’t work repeat steps 1 and 2 again. If it still doesn’t come out go back to shaking it like it’s just said rude things about your mother and it will probably come out eventually. I don’t recommend this though as all sorts of bad things can happen to your guitar through intense shaking.
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How to successfully track your progress on guitar to gain confidence

I’m not getting any better
This is what some of my students think now and what a lot of my students have thought over the last 20 years (the amount of time I’ve been teaching for).
It’s horrible to think you’e standing still and can drain confidence and sometimes make you feel that you want to give up all together.
Stop thinking like that and get your mojo back
Here is a very simple and quick method to help you track your progress and feel better about yourself using only your smartphone/tablet
Record yourself
That’s it
There are however a few rules to follow if you want to make the most out it.
  1. Play the same song every week. (Until you start a new one obviously)
  2. Just play one song. It is designed to track your progress not to be a log of your entire repertoire.
  3. Do it even if you haven’t done any practice. It will highlight how much difference practice makes when you do it.
  4. Do it at the same time/day every week.That way it will become a habit and something that is just part of your practice routine.
  5. Review it. Every week compare it to the last video you made. If you’ve practised there will be an improvement.
It’s important not to confuse progress with hitting your goals/targets. You might only have improved a little and not be any where near hitting your goal (maybe it’s to be able to play a song all the way through). It is impossible to hit goals without improving so be pleased with yourself no matter how small the improvement is.
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My strings aren’t broken, why do I need to change them?

Here’s why
When you’re strings are old they are stinky and unhygienic. Your fingers don’t move nicely over them which means you play worse and they make your tone horrible. Wouldn’t you want your guitar to sound and feel amazing every time you picked it up?
Of course you would and it will. By taking a few minutes to read this post and taking action a few times a year your guitar playing and your tone will always be where it should be.
At the top level.
Just do this
I know how disappointing it can be when your guitar playing feels slow and your fingers seem to stick to the strings. It can also really get you down when no matter how much energy you give, your playing sounds dead and lifeless. Try following the tips below and feel and hear the difference.
  • Change your strings 4 times a year (every 3 months). That’s about £/$3 a month. You can change them more regularly if you perform a lot or you are a real sweater but for most of my students this is enough if you buy decent quality strings. The idea is that it shouldn’t make a huge difference when you change them. You are just maintaining. If it does make a huge difference you should increase the frequency that you change them. Put it in your calendar so you don’t have to remember.
  • Use fast fret before and after you play. This really helps to maintain the freshness of your strings. It doesn’t cost much and it lasts for ages.
  • Wipe the strings with a cloth when you’ve finished. A clean microfiber one. Not an old dish cloth or a pair of old underpants with no elastic that you’ve saved in a drawer for dusting. This will remove any dirt or deposits left from sweating etc.
  • Wash your hands before you start. This doesn’t sound very rock and roll but whatever is on your hands (all sorts of horrible stuff) will end up on your strings and your fret board.
This stuff isn’t difficult and anyone can do it but it makes a huge difference. It won’t be long before it becomes a habit and then you won’t even have to think about it.
Just a quick tip. If you don’t like or know how to change your strings ask your local music shop. My local Bedrock music offers a great service that also includes a clean up of the frets and fret-board as well.
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How to ensure you get the best guitar for you when buying a new instrument.

Who doesn’t need another guitar?

With Christmas never more than 12 months away and birthdays all year round here is some advice on buying your first guitar or the ideal present for someone who already has a guitar. Another guitar.

Don’t be overwhelmed. Enjoy it.
Buying a guitar can be overwhelming with more choice than ever before and more options of where to buy one from. By following this guide you can ensure that you get the best  guitar for you. A guitar is a very personal possession.  Wouldn’t you want to make sure that buying your guitar is an enjoyable,  personal experience?


The difference between cost and value

My first and most important piece of advice is buy it from a music shop (preferably your local music shop). The photo above is my local music shop Bedrock Music. The staff in music shops are experts who know a lot about guitars and also a lot about people who buy them. They will be able to give you great advice and guide you towards the perfect instrument for you. You will also benefit from their ongoing after sales service as part of the package and I believe this adds huge value. I know that it’s tempting to buy online when you see the same thing a little bit cheaper, but trust me, the support of a good music shop is worth a little extra. I’ve heard and witnessed first hand some horror stories of instruments purchased online. Never buy an instrument from anywhere that you can’t try out first. It might be brilliant but it might not. I personally don’t believe it’s worth the risk. Remember … the cheapest price isn’t always the best deal !!

Try before you buy

Carrying on from above if you play a guitar and love it then just buy it. Don’t get the new one from out the back instead as it may be slightly (or completely) different. If it feels right then it probably is right. Instruments (particularly guitars) are a very personal thing and no two are identical. Also some shops pay special attention to the set-up of their display models, making them feel great and play better than one straight out of the box so always buy the actual one you try.

Be open to different brands

Don’t be a brand snob. It’s natural to be drawn to the big name brands that everyone knows. At the end of the day who doesn’t dream of owning a Gibson or a Fender. However by doing this you can easily overlook other great products that offer the same or better quality at a lower price. In my experience, the less well known makes have to put more effort into their instruments as they cannot rely on the brand alone to sell them. A good music shop will be able to show you good alternatives.

There’s nothing to be scared of

Try and take someone with you that you trust if you are inexperienced or feel uncomfortable playing in a shop environment. I offer all my students this help when buying a guitar and often go to my local shop with them or their parents. Sometimes hearing someone else play several different guitars can help you decide which one is for you as you can stand back and be objective (or close your eyes and just listen).

For me it’s brilliant as it’s all the good bits of choosing and buying a guitar without actually spending any money. I also get to see that student grow into their guitar over time and often their playing improves very quickly just after they’ve bought it.


Not as important as the above points but still worth thinking about and hey? You’ve read this far.

If you are buying an electric guitar, make sure you hear it through a similar sized amplifier to the one you will be using. A huge 100w stack will make any guitar sound impressive whereas a 10w practice amp will be a bit more honest.

No matter how experienced you are, make sure you play it and that it feels comfortable in your hands. Also put a strap on it and try it standing up as the balance of most guitars can feel different when standing.

Not quite so important but still worth thinking about. Make sure the guitar suits the type of music you will be playing, the sales person should be able to advise you on this. If it is a present for someone and you’re not sure, just get a black one that looks normal (not extra pointy). Black guitars can be played at any time and suit any genre. That’s right …. even jazz

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