- Play the same song every week. (Until you start a new one obviously)
- Just play one song. It is designed to track your progress not to be a log of your entire repertoire.
- Do it even if you haven’t done any practice. It will highlight how much difference practice makes when you do it.
- 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.
- Review it. Every week compare it to the last video you made. If you’ve practised there will be an improvement.
- 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.
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.
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.
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