Guitar Student Success

Student Successes Here are some of our guitar student successes with the guitar.  It’s not all about the certificates, but they do act as nice milestones and we love the look on students’ faces when they get them.   Emily (15) got her Grade 5...

Guitar books and equipment

Guitars books and equipment Here we present the products that we’ve tested and recommend for our students, all in one handy place so you’ll get the right stuff straight away! Bear in mind that these recommendations come with:  40+ years playing experience...

Drones

Drones Drones are a really useful tool for helping you learn how to improvise.  They allow you to hear the quality of a variety of scales over a drone, so you learn how each note sounds in relation to a root note - the drone. Here we present for your delectation some...

Key Signatures

KEY SIGNATURES A lot of fuss goes on around key signatures.  Things can seem complex and hard to remember.  So here I will let you know the shortcuts that got me able to learn all the key signatures in no time. Things you need to know first! Sharps and flats These are...

semiquaver figures

Semiquaver Figures Beats can be divided up in all sorts of ways.  Here we are going to look at the ways we can split a beat into 4 parts. So the basic idea is this.  Let’s say we’re using a simple time signature (4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 5/4 etc).  We’re going...

Harmonised major scale

The harmonised major scale What is a harmonised major scale? If you want to know all the chords in a particular key you will want to know how to build and use a harmonised major scale.  This can be really useful when you’re song writing because it makes it so...

Express Practice

What follows is the best way to practise.  Using these methods you will get faster results on any instrument, or indeed any study, whether sport, academic work, skills of any sort. This way of practising is designed to get you able to do things on the guitar quickly. ...

Guitar Arpeggios

Guitar Arpeggios As with most aspects of learning the guitar, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about guitar arpeggios and how to play them.  It is often stated that arpeggios are something you learn once you’re an intermediate or advanced player. ...

Old Man

Old Man – Neil Young Neil Yound wrote Old Man for Louis Avila who was the caretaker of a ranch he’d bought.  It was released on the great album Harvest.  On the album he had James Taylor on backing vocals. Don’t you just want to know what was written...

Long Train Running

Long Train Running – The Doobie Brothers Always a crowd pleaser when you’re in a covers band that will get them up and dancing, Long Train Running is a good tune for honing your strumming skills. There’s a nice two finger hammer on and pull off and...

Jazzy Blues

Jazzy blues A lot of the appeal of the blues can come from its ‘earthy’ feel.  But learning to play a jazzy blues can be a great gateway to understanding some more complex chords and how they fit together. So here’s a nice jazzy blues for you to try...

The easiest blues ever!!

The easiest blues EVER!! It’s great playing the blues but usually that requires either playing open first position chords which don’t sound very bluesy, or having to play more difficult chords up the neck a bit. Fear not!  I’ve got the perfect...

Phone Booth

Phone Booth – Robert Cray Here’s a great example of a blues song using less common chord shapes and some nice variations on the basic 12 bar blues. If you’re not yet comfortable with the 12 bar blues click here to get up to speed then come back here....

The Blues

The Blues The Blues can have all sorts of definitions.  It can have a particular feel or groove and all sorts of ideas abound about the history of the blues.  There are many types of blues – Delta, Texas, Jazz, Chicago blues and of course British Blues. ...

Moves Like Jagger

Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 is a great song for learning how to strum freely with the right hand.  It is not an easy strumming pattern because the tempo is high and very syncopated (lots of playing off the beat), but it’s...

Double arpeggio

Double Arpeggios The double arpeggio is a way of breaking up a chord using the fingers of the right hand.  It is commonly used in flamenco and is one of the first challenges that comes up in early studies with soleares. This is also a great way of ensuring a good...

Black Magic Woman

Black Magic Woman – Santana (thanks to Peter Green) Another guitar classic Black Magic Woman is a great vehicle for improvisation.  It’s also a good study of blues playing. The lyrics may not win any prizes, but this is a vehicle for instrumental music...

Vincent – Don McLean

Vincent – Don McLean Vincent by Don McLean is a classic song of its time, still gets regular performances around folky settings and seldom leaves an audience dry eyed. It’s a pretty easy one to play in terms of chord shapes, but there’s plenty you...

Chord families

Chord families Chords can be grouped according to their quality, or type of sound. The basic groups Major – 1 3 5 – Happy Minor 1 b3 5 – Sad Weird ones Diminished – 1 b3 b5 Augmented –  1 3 #5 Extended chord families Major 7 – 1 3 5...

Key signatures

Key signatures Working with key signatures is not nearly as difficult as most people will lead you to believe.  Here is our simple guide and working method. Make sure you know how to build a major scale before continuing! Now you understand how to build a major scale...

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison Artist: Van Morrison Release:  1967 Album:  Blowin’ Your Mind Brown Eyed Girl has had over 16 million hits just on YouTube!!  Van The Man says he’s never received a penny in royalties – but then have you ever...

6 note shapes

6 note shapes – major scale There are only 3 ways that notes occur on a string as already identified here.  When you examine all the possibilities on the guitar fretboard you find there are fixed patterns that these shapes move from one to the other. When you...

Harmonic Minor

The Harmonic Minor We’ve identified that what we mean when we say ‘minor’ usually means a scale starting from the sixth note of a major scale. Let’s look at the tones and semitones between the notes of a major scale:      T    T     S   ...

Minor Keys

What is a key? Put simply a key is a collection of notes to be used to make some music. What is usually meant by the key of a piece of music is which major or minor scale is being used. For example, if I write a piece of music using the notes C, D, E, F, G, A and B...

Basic terms

Sharps # and flats b These symbols change the pitch of a note.  A sharp sign (#) takes the note a semitone higher, one fret higher. If I want to find a C# (C sharp) I just find the normal C and move it up one fret to get the C#. If I want to find Bb (B flat) I just...

Modes – finally the truth

Modes There is an awful lot of fuss made about modes in the world of guitar.  They are actually really simple.  They are also seldom actually used – even when people think they are using them, they’re often just not understanding how music really works....

3 notes per string

3 notes per string If you take that pattern for a major scale of Tone Tone Semitone Tone Tone Tone Semitone it means that there are only 3 ways that three notes can be spaced apart by these tones and semitones: Tone Semitone, or Semitone Tone, or Tone Tone. They look...

Building scales

Building Scales To really understand how music works on the guitar you’re going to need to understand scales and how to build them.   What is a scale? A scale is any series of notes that rises or falls in pitch. The character of a scale is determined by the...

Dominant 7 chords

Here are the chord shapes used for playing dominant 7 chords in the first position. Remember these are not major 7 chords – a major 7 chord has the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th from the major scale.  A dominant 7 has the 1st, 3rd, 5th...

Christmas drinks

Christmas Drinks December 20th 2017 at 8:30. Come along and join the staff of Express Guitar Nottingham for a quick pint. A chance to have a pint and a natter after a hectic year. The Bread And Bitter,...

Slide guitar workshop

This was a two hour session for beginners on slide guitar back in May 2017. We worked on the two best tunings used, learnt some tasty licks, looked at all the different sorts of slides you can get and how they sound. We looked at a little blues history too to...

Rhythm workshop

Rhythm Workshop with Richard Kensington 27th January 2018   Time till the big event? Day(s) : Hour(s) : Minute(s) : Second(s) 1:30 – 4:30 pm The International Community Centre(I.C.C.), 61b Mansfield Rd, Nottingham, NG1 3FN Why? Our dificulty Rhythm is such...

Music exam – identifying intervals

Music exam – interval identification Here is a simple series of questions that will allow you to quickly identify intervals. Question 1 Is this interval dissonant, consonant or pretty?   Dissonant Dissonant intervals are often the easiest to spot –...

Aural Training

Aural Training   When you take exams on guitar with any of the exam boards you will need to learn how to identify relationships between pitches.   Here is a table of different intervals between notes and how to identify them.   You can click on song...

All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix

All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix All Along The Watchtower was of course written by Bob Dylan but Hendrix made the song his own in the minds of most guitarists. This version is not an exact version of the original.  That version contains lots of guitars...

Budapest – George Ezra

Budapest – George Ezra Budapest is a super easy version of this song for beginner guitar.  You’ll see that there is just one chord shape using two fingers that you move around. Budapest is a a great song for helping you to learn how to strum the guitar...

Cream – Prince

Cream – Prince Prince claims to have written Cream while looking in the mirror.  This version of the song is not as he plays it but we use it like this to make things easy to play and also so that you can see how lyrics fit over a simple rhythm.  When you listen...

Galway Girl – Ed Sheeran

  Galway Girl – Ed Sheeran is a great, simple song.  It’s great to hear some proper Irish folk music cropping up in the mainstream charts. Here we’ve given you some easy versions of normal chords to make things a bit easier for beginners.  The...

Let It Be – The Beatles

Let It Be – The Beatles Let It Be by The Beatles is such a great song for a singalong.  Everybody knows it, though the volume always goes up for the chorus.  It’s quite high for the voice, so don’t be shy with. It was the title track of their last...

Wonderwall – Oasis for easy guitar

Wonderwall – Oasis   The storming hit Wonderwall by Oasis is one of the best songs to learn on guitar.  Firstly because everybody knows it and will sing on.  Secondly because it introduces a clever trick with the left hand. The trick is to just leave your...

play guitar faster

In order to play things at higher speeds we have to make the movements automatic. The first step in this process is to make sure the movements are technically correct – playing with the tips of the fingers, using the correct down and up strokes etc .. Then the...

Strumming

Strumming ∏         Means a downstroke V         Means an upstroke >         Means an accent Exercise 1 Count out loud (say the number and then ‘and’ for each + sign). ∏        V        ∏        V        ∏        V        ∏        V...

The notes on the guitar fret board

All the notes on the guitar neck Here’s a colour coded diagram of the guitar neck up to the 12th fret.  So you can find any note on any string.  If you want to find the # or b version of the note just move up or down one fret.  So if you want a C#, find a C and...