Expert guitar lessons for Children, Teenagers and Adults
Beginners to Advanced - All Welcome!

Teachers: Nigel Foote, Martin Foote and Dawn Egan
Teaching guitar in the Blue Mountains since 1983

GUITAR INFORMATION

  • You will need the following items:

  • Guitar – children usually start with a 3/4 size nylon-string guitar, which will be suitable for the first year or two. Valencia is a good reliable brand and only costs about $80. Very young children may need a 1/2 size guitar. Once children have shown that they are keen and are going to practise, we recommend that you buy them a steel-string guitar (not full-size). Teenagers and adults often start with a steel-string guitar – which is more suitable to the styles and techniques we teach. We are happy to meet you at Katoomba Music and help you find the right guitar – one that suits your budget.

  • Strings – most steel-string guitars are shipped from the factory with Light Gauge strings, which are usually too heavy for most young students if they have never played before. So it is sometimes best to ask the shop to restring the guitar when you buy one. D'Addario Custom Light EJ26 strings or Martin MSP 7050 are good, however, there is a huge choice of strings available these days, so try different brands until you find what you prefer. The strings on nylon-strung guitars wil last for a long time – a year or more, so a young student may well outgrow the guitar before restringing becomes an issue. Note: restringing nylon-string guitars is a more fiddly process than with steel-string guitars, so have the shop do it for you if you haven't done it before. However, everyone should learn how to re-string their guitars eventually. We will show you how to re-string your guitar when your strings become dull – a 'restring lesson'. Once you have done it a few times, you will find it quite an enjoyable process. Always keep a spare set of strings in your guitar case. Put together a 'string-changing kit' – a plastic string-winder and a small pair of side-cutting pliers. Clean your guitar with a damp cloth when the strings are off.

  • Tuner – clip-on tuners have become the way to go – they clip on the headstock of the guitar and respond to the vibration of a string instead of the sound, so they aren't disrupted by conversation or a passing train! We are impressed by the Snark brand which costs about $30.  Most tuners are fairly accurate – just be sure to get one that's easy to read. You can also download a guitar-tuning app for your phone (ClearTune is a good one).

  • Tuning Fork – hardly anyone uses them these days which is a pity, because a tuning fork helps us develop our hearing – fine-tunes our ears and really makes us listen. I can't tune by ear quite as accurately as I could when I bought my first electronic tuner. I had already used a tuning fork for seventeen years and my ears were 'tuning fork trained'. I always show my students the hidden secret of a tuning fork, just for the fun of it. I tap it, hold it high... no sound... place it on their guitar and mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Pure magic! If the battery dies in your electronic tuner you can always rely on your tuning fork – so buy one (an A-440) – it will never let you down... or your great, great grandchildren, either. I've got my grandmother's tuning fork – the one she used in the White House when she and her sisters sang folk songs to President Wilson and his family in 1914.

  • Capo – firstly, make sure you buy the right type for your guitar – a 'flat' capo for a nylon-string guitar or a 'curved' capo for a steel-string guitar. There is a wide choice available. Clamp-on capos are the simplest to use – Dunlop, Planet Waves, Maton, Kyser are all popular, but many professionals choose an adjustable Shubb capo. Just make sure you buy the right type – curved or flat. Note: 12-string guitars and some Dobro, National or other resonator guitar brands require a slightly longer curved or flat capo to span the wider finger-board of these instruments. Also, some early model steel-string guitars (pre-1950) had flat fingerboards, so a curved capo – usually used on steel-string guitars – won't apply even pressure across the strings, resulting in buzzing problems on the middle strings. You need a flat capo for these old models.

  • Thumbpicks – they accentuate the bass notes and help develop an overall stronger picking style. Some people use them, some don't (we all use them in our family). Young children usually start without them because it's hard to find thumbpicks that are small enough. The National brand 'small' thumbpick was perfect for children but we haven't been able to source them for many years... but we'll keep looking. We use Dunlop, National and Planet Wave thumbpicks, and encourage you to experiment with different types of brands and sizes. Note: if you already play guitar and don't currently use a thumbpick, it will feel strange when you try one, but stick with it for a few weeks and it will soon feel normal – and you will wonder how you ever played without one!

  • Flatpicks – a massive variety available. We will give you one when you have your first lesson, but we encourage you to buy a few brands and thicknesses to find out what you prefer. Keep your picks and thumbpicks in a plastic film container or small tin and they won't go up the vacuum cleaner!

  • Fingerpicks – these are metal or plastic picks that slide onto your fingers to give you a louder sound than bare fingertips do. They are used by many guitarists and almost all banjo players. Unlike the piano or most other instruments, there are a variety of approaches to playing guitar. People use flatpicks, thumbpicks, fingerpicks, fingernails, acrylic nails or bare fingers – which all sound different and feel different. Experiment with different approaches to find out what sounds (and feels) best to you. Most contemporary fingerpickers use a thumb and two fingers, quite a few use a thumb and three, and many early bluesmen used their thumb and just one finger (as do the contemporary singer-songwriters, Steve Earle and Luka Bloom).

  • More soon...