Guitar Lessons Nottingham - Blog

Welcome to my blog, here I will be posting lots of tips and techniques for beginners and experienced guitar players alike. Feel free to leave a comment on any of the posts or contact me if there is something you would like me to write about.

Guitar Lessons Nottingham – Top Pick

Guitar Lessons Nottingham – Top Pick

Chimaira’s guitarist Emil Werstler discusses his traditional methods for getting an awesome guitar tone, he has several guitars most in different tunings and one for the bus and to  specically to learn guitar parts.

He has a no nonsense approach to getting the thickness of tone without showing off with a wall full of cabs

The lesson for today is “less is more”.

Read more here

 

Rotosound Electric Guitar

 

Review: Rotosounds

Does history matter when it comes to choosing your strings? This was something I was thinking about when trying out strings by Rotosounds. They make a big thing about their long track record going all the way back to 1957 and the fact that the strings are made in England. Of course it’s good to buy British when you can, but do these strings live up to their history?

The price is right?

Never mind the history. Let’s look at the maths first. These strings seemed cheaper than the competition. But you also get a free string for beginners – a nice touch. That free first string was ideal for my guitar lessons.

Traditional feel

As fits with the history of the make, the strings felt traditional in style. This is interesting because they are sponsored by Guthrie Govan, known for being a great contemporary player. But this more traditional feel was definitely something I noticed both in my guitar lessons and in my own playing. In my view, the strings are more geared towards styles like rock and roll, jazz and blues. That was fine for a lot of my guitar lessons, but not of course for all of them.

So what did my guitar tuition students make of the Rotosounds strings? Well, like me, they found them nice to play with a really good mellow tone. In fact, I couldn’t tell the difference between them and the leading (and more expensive) guitar string brands. In terms of playing, my guitar tuition students said that the Rotosounds felt as nice to play as they sounded. I would agree with that. Overall, they offered a good playing experience for the more traditional tunes in my guitar tuition and in my own playing.

The B side

The not so good side? Well, the main thing me and my guitar tuition students noticed was that the strings didn’t seem to last as long as newer brands I’ve reviewed like D’Addario. It seemed like the steel strings tarnished quite quickly. Plus, we also found we had to polish them up when we had used them.

My final take on the Rotosounds? It always feels good to buy British, but you need other reasons than that to buy a product. I’d say that with the free string and the good quality playing experience, there’s plenty here to offer the experienced player as well as the guitar tuition beginner.

Rob Greco

 

 

Review: Dean Markley Blue Steels – Electric Guitar

 

Review: Dean Markley Blue Steels

I’ve never been big on hype. I like to test things out for myself, as anyone who reads this blog will have guessed. But I have to admit that I had pretty high expectations of the Dean Markley Blue Steels. Not only because I’ve had good experiences with their other guitar strings [link to previous DM blog post] but also because of the big noise Dean Markley make about their fancy development processes.  A price tag that’s somewhat higher than other similar products also suggested that I would have a higher quality playing experience.

A not so trivial thing

Let me start with something that may seem trivial, but which I think says a lot. While I’ve been playing guitar for years, I’m also a guitar tutor so I’m really aware of the importance of product makers keeping beginners in mind. That’s exactly what I don’t think these strings do. Unlike most strings, which come in colour coded packets, these ones are all bunched together in one. Like I said, this can seem a trivial point – unless you’re a beginner or just starting guitar lessons.

Taking the shine off

While we’re on the subject of packaging, these strings certainly look nice out of the packet. But after rehearsals and guitar lessons, my fingers felt sore. It’s like they almost felt static under my fingers. Not so inspiring when you’re playing or having guitar tuition! The strings also tarnished and discoloured surprisingly quickly.  But there’s more. Despite all the hype about their clever development process, they didn’t seem to last any longer than other strings. I have some feedback for Dean Markley on that score. It doesn’t actually say on the packet exactly what the strings are made of. I wanted to know and went to the trouble of tweeting Dean Markley to ask. I’m still waiting for a response…

Good little performers

But it’s not all bad news.  My guitar tuition students did enjoy playing the Blue Steels. However, I don’t think these strings are really ideal for guitar lessons or new learners. In my view, they’re better as performance strings. Because after 3 or 4 days of consistent playing in guitar tuition, they lost all their slipperiness and felt like they needed changing. I think they would be great for a gig, but not so great when you’re using them for 6 hours a day in different guitar lessons.

Sexy packaging aside

My final thought? Sexy packaging aside, I prefer Dean Markley’s basic product. There you have strings which are clearly marked and which last a decent amount of time, giving you quality with all possible users in mind. Whether you’re giving guitar lessons or not, those things count a lot more than any amount of hype.

Rob Greco

 

Optima Gold Strings

Review:  Optima 2028BM Gold Strings “Brian May”

“If it’s good enough for Brian May, it’s good enough for me”. That’s what I thought when I decided to try out the Optima 2028BM Gold Strings, as endorsed by the badger-loving rock legend himself. I was far from disappointed. The Optima strings gave me a really nice playing experience, both in and outside of my guitar lessons.  In fact, I’d say it’s probably the best I’ve tried. One big reason is because they feel quite flexible to play, compared to conventional guitar strings.

Going for gold

So what’s it actually like to play guitar with 24 carat gold? What really struck me in my guitar lessons and in my own playing was that these strings seem to last much longer than others. One thing, the paint started to flake off where the fingers go on the neck of the guitar. But this was a minor point, though my students noticed it in guitar lessons. Sometimes, with guitar strings, the coating can feel almost ‘plasticky’, but with these, the gold adds a protective layer which makes them feel completely natural.

Blinging it

I have to be honest. It did feel rather flash, playing with gold strings, especially when giving guitar lessons. But they set off the gold hardware of my SG guitar rather nicely. Surprisingly, this bling isn’t any more expensive than leading brands. The strings also created quite an impression in my guitar lessons with plenty of my guitar tuition students commenting that I must be getting paid too much!

Dressed to thrill?

The strings may be endorsed by Brian May, but does that mean they suit his style of music? They only have light gauges and no heavy gauges for jazz and blues. So yes, they are great for rock, but with a limited use for my guitar lessons. I’d like to suggest to the manufacturer that they do them in acoustic and also that they make some heavier gauges. Plus, if they’re going to offer gold, why not also offer strings in different materials like platinum and silver or white gold?

Fresh as a daisy

Never mind how they look. Not only does the tone stay consistently bright, but those 24 carats protect the strings so that they don’t wear out like conventional strings. I also thought it was impressive that the stress of the plectrum doesn’t chip away at them. Particularly good for wear and tear when I was giving guitar lessons. There was still plenty of life left in them. I have to be honest. I probably wouldn’t usually buy these because their look is just a little too, well, gold, for me. But after this experience, in and out of guitar lessons, I have to recommend them.
My final thought? Look beyond the bling and you’ll find some very nice strings. Good on you, Brian May.
Rob Greco

Review: D’Addario guitar strings

First impressions can be deceptive. I realised that when I reviewed the Ernie Cobalt strings and the Dean Markley 11-52 strings. But it seemed especially true when I tried out the latest offering from D’Addario. To be honest, my first impression of their new strings was “I can’t play them!”. Fortunately, there’s a lot more to them than that, as I soon found out, in and outside of my guitar lessons.

Strange to start with

So what was it that made me and my guitar tuition students feel strange playing with the D’Addarios at first? Technically, these strings are different to their previous ones which changes your playing technique. While the strings are made of the same nickel wound the makers have always used, they are 11 15 19 28 37 50 as opposed to the original 11 14 28 38 49. This means they’ve been mathematically optimised for an evenly balanced fretting bending and picking experience. Plus some of the strings are heavier, which did affect some of my students in their guitar lessons

Time to adjust

What does this all mean for the keen guitar player? Well, a bit of a readjustment in how you play. This was something I found on my own and with students in my guitar lessons. After 20 years playing one way, it took me a little time to adjust. This was also true for intermediate players in my guitar lessons. Obviously, my beginner guitar tuition students wouldn’t know any different, so this wasn’t an issue for them.

A great all-round sound

But what happens after you get over that slight weird feeling? A great playing experience, both in and out of guitar lessons. The strings feel smoother and more modern than the originals. I tried out different styles with students in my guitar lessons and came to the conclusion that the strings are better for the modern player rather than the traditional. They are great all-round guitar strings, but not so good for playing jazz or blues. Because they’re not overly loud, I would also say that these aren’t the best choice for playing metal. But for anything else, they’re great. Plus they’re good for general use in guitar lessons, too.

A few days later…

A week or so on and these strings are still holding their own. They feel very sturdy. They’ve proven themselves on another score, too – all thanks to the winter weather we’ve been having this spring. The studio where I give guitar lessons gets very cold. But I didn’t need to retune the strings, despite temperature changes from freezing to warm. They stayed well in tune throughout.

Brighter and better

That’s the playing covered, but what about the techie stuff? In my opinion and judging by the response they got in my guitar lessons, these strings sound brighter. In my view, the makers have changed the way they produce them and improved them in the process.

Another good thing: the strings are sealed inside and out in their packaging so that they last longer. But there’s more. Unlike other manufacturers, D’Addario have improved their product without hiking up the price. While their old product was good, their new one is even better. If I had to sum it up, I’d describe it as a good all-rounder built to last.

Like I said, there’s much more to these guitar strings than mere first impressions.

Rob Greco

 

 

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Ernie Ball Cobalt guitar strings

Review:  Ernie Ball Cobalt guitar strings

If something costs twice as much as another product, does that mean it’s twice as good? This was a question I had about Ernie Ball’s new Cobalt guitar strings. I decided to test them out, both in and outside of guitar lessons, to see how they performed.

Great expectations

This product comes with plenty of high expectations attached, as well as the higher than normal price tag. The new Cobalt strings are meant to be louder and brighter with a warmer sound. This was something I was keen for my students to try out in their guitar lessons.

Gritty

I have to say that my first impressions did not live up to the hype. On first play, for both me and students attending my guitar lessons, we noticed that the strings felt a little weird. If I had to compare the feeling to anything, I would say it felt like acoustic guitar strings. Playing them at first actually ripped one of my students fingers to shreds. They felt like the sort of strings you would buy on a strict budget. I had to add string lubricant to be able to use them. The friction still slows you down. That’s not great when I’m performing or trying to give guitar lessons!

Slash and burn?

This product is endorsed by Slash himself which does surprise me in view of the abrasive feel of the strings. However, it does seem a bit more fitting when you hear how the strings work when playing slower rock and blues and rhythm. Their more abrasive feel does really go with those styles. I thought it was a top end sound. However, in my experience the strings weren’t so good for lead playing so I would suggest using a regular brand for that.

Not a smooth ride

What about in guitar lessons? Generally speaking, thrash metal guitar strings aren’t the best to use for guitar lessons, though my students did have fun trying them out! Overall, the experience in guitar lessons was they felt like acoustic guitar strings – very loud, but not as smooth as regular strings. In and out of guitar lessons, they didn’t stay in tune initially and there were some embarrassing moments when they went out of tune! One disappointing note to end on is that after a week or two of use, one of the strings snapped when I was changing from drop C to concert pitch!

The final word

In my view, these strings aren’t as good as the ‘double the normal price tag’ would suggest. But they have lasted an incredibly long time – the longest I’ve had guitar strings without changing them. Plus, they haven’t tarnished yet and they still feel fresh. Overall, they gave a good and long lasting performance, though maybe not appropriate for use in guitar lessons. However, if the makers can sort out the abrasive feel of the strings, they’ll have cracked it.

Rob Greco

 

Sneak Preview: Eric Clapton – Old Sock

Eric Clapton is streaming his new album – Old Sock Via the Speakeasy blog

The quirky album title is a tell tale sign of the sounds to be heard in Claptons latest release.

I was rather surprised by the first track in the selection, completly different to what I was expecting!

Click here to find a sneak preview to stream before the release next week.

Enjoy the chilled out guitar tones.

Dean Markley Electric Guitar Strings Review

Two weeks on: Dean Markley 11-52 Guitar Strings
Still going strong

Two weeks and a lot of guitar lessons later and I have to say it, my Dean Markley 11-52 strings are still going strong. I’m impressed. These aren’t just performance strings. They sound good out of the wrapper, but they also stay sounding sweet. I’ve seen these strings tried and tested by different student during my guitar lessons. From new starters to old hands, they’ve all had a great performance out of them. So what’s made these strings such a pleasant surprise to me, both in and out of my guitar lessons?
Great tone
First off, they’re really easy to play. Throughout my guitar lessons, students kept saying how simple they found the strings to play. Another comment that kept coming up is that they aren’t rough on the fingers. We also found that the guitar stays in tune for longer. Not only that, but I’d say the tone is easily as good as the market leader. I guess that means it’s not surprising that while the product isn’t big on sponsorship, it gets used by a lot of artists. In my view, these strings are great for all kinds of sounds and styles – helpful for guitar lessons where I’m working with people who want to play all kinds of music. Having said that, they do seem to be particularly good for styles such as blues and 90s-era metal.
Pleasantly surprised
It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised like this. Teaching guitar lessons means I get through a lot of strings. But I can honestly say that this product, while it’s on the more affordable end of the scale, feels nicely expensive to use. Unlike some other products, you don’t just get that short-lived fresh out of the packet feeling. They stay sounding and feeling fresh. That’s with all the work they have to do throughout a fortnight of guitar lessons, plus my own playing outside of giving guitar tuition!
Punching above their weight
I think you’ve got the picture. I like these. They feel great and sound great too. They manage to punch way above their weight both in terms of performance and durability. That lovely fresh out of the packet feeling keeps on going. It’s a very nice surprise that one of the lower cost guitar strings can give such a nice expensive performance. As you can guess, I’m impressed and the students in my guitar lessons were impressed. But there’s nothing like testing something out in person. Click below to see some reviews and try them for yourself!
Rob Greco

Peavy AT-200 Guitar Review

Review: Peavy AT-200 guitar with Auto-Tune Technology
Auto-tune technology usually gets a bad rap from music fans. But what about the same technology for the guitar? I decided to try out the Peavy AT-200 guitar with auto-tune in my guitar lessons. So did it turn out to be a soulless quick fix or a useful resource for open minded musicians? Here’s what I think.

First impressions
I have to admit that my first thought when I saw the guitar was about the standard gimmicky red it comes in. This is slightly lacking in imagination in my view. When I actually started using the product in my guitar lessons, I was impressed at how quick and easy it is to set up and start using. The guitar comes with a full set-up kit. As this review by Paul Ridden [link to review] points out, there is lowering of the overall output volume from the guitar once the auto-tune is active, but the company are making a free update available through their website.
Great idea
To make sure my trial was a fair one, I used the Peavy AT-200 during my guitar lessons over the space of a week. That gave me a good idea of how it could work. At the end of that time, my main thought is that it’s a great crutch or resource, for example, when it’s not practical to tune a guitar, such as when you’re about to go on stage or you’re giving guitar lessons. It’s definitely a time saving device on that score.

Time saving
But – and I make this point as someone who has given many guitar lessons over many years – playing a guitar isn’t just about just playing. Ear training matters just as much as the technical fingerwork. This is where the product falls down. While it was interesting for my students to try out the Peavy in their guitar lessons, they did miss out on ear training. The guitar provides a short-cut which could become a dead end to their learning further down the line. Tuning a guitar is a really important way to get to understand music. I make it a key part of my guitar lessons. Auto-tune certainly speeded up the process for my students in their guitar lessons, but ultimately I think they missed out on something important.

The verdict
My verdict on the Peavy AT-200 guitar with auto-tune technology? I’m pretty sure it will continue to divide opinion. In my view, it’s not so great for guitar lessons when you want to help people fine tune their ear and improve their understanding of the link between the strings and the sound. But having said that, I do think this is rather interesting technology with some potential when very carefully applied.
Rob Greco

Recommended Listening

This weeks essential listening for Blues Guitar


Great honest guitar playing here.


One of my favorite guitar players of all times.


Jimi taught me so much about the guitar, would have made a great guitar teacher!

    • Lisa & Steven
    • Rob’s enthusiastic yet patient teaching style allows me to progress at my own pace. I can’t recommend him enough!

    • Neil Sanders
    • I have been seeing Rob for guitar lessons for a few years now.  I am a guitar teacher myself and Rob has given me lots of confidence he really knows his stuff.

    • Karen Hubbard
    • I have been having guitar lessons with Rob for six months or so. He is really welcoming and friendly and sessions are relaxed and are at a pace that works to suit me. I get to choose the stuff I enjoy playing rather than being told what to play which makes a big difference to me and means I learn because I’m enjoying it and want to practice inbetween sessions. I have really come along way since starting with him, because I think he believes in
      me and my capabilities and cares about his students and tailors sessions to the individual.

    • Mandy Martin
    • Thanks Rob. Wish the school teachers were more like you, think they would get better results!!

      I like the way you really care about Oli

    • Paul vale
    • Rob is an outstanding teacher and has helped me enormously with his flexible, patient and professional approach

    • Justin Fisher
    • Having started as a complete beginner I found Rob to be very friendly, taking the time to find out what I wanted to learn.

      Lessons are adapted to suit what it is you want to play. Rob is very knowledgeable and offers plenty of support when there are elements I do not understand. I would highly recommend anyone willing to try Rob as a teacher.

      You will be rocking in no time….

    • Vic Roberts
    • Hi my name is Vic and i have been taking lessons from Rob for a few months now. I have tried a few teachers in the past but I think Rob is an excellent teacher by comparison. He is friendly easy going and makes the lessons enjoyable. Also it is nice to take lessons in a proper studio rather than someones front room. If you want to learn guitar or already play and want some advanced lessons I highly recommend Rob as a teacher.