guitar lesson

Guitar Lessons for Christmas - A Bit of Advice...

First published November 26th 2012

Ho ho ho!

My Xmas shopping outfit this year

My Xmas shopping outfit this year

I know it's early yet, but with Christmas on the way, you might be donning your battle gear ready to hit the streets in search of that perfect gift for your friends, family, other half or little rascals.  Others though, like me, are hiding under the stairs, chewing their nails and breaking into a cold sweat at the thought of the inevitable last minute Xmas eve shopping-spree handing out wads of cash to anyone, ANYBODY who can sell them something that looks remotely thoughtful.

There is one gift though, that will guarantee to show your thoughtfulness and aptitude for a bit of 'out of the box thinking' - guitar lessons!

Now, I'm not just plugging my own business as many of you reading this around the country will be too far away, but if you are planning on purchasing this unique present for a lucky recipient, here are a few tips for you to take into consideration when buying guitar lessons as a gift:


Don't buy too many

Has the person you're buying for mentioned guitar lessons before?  If not, you might be taking a chance, in which case, 1-5 is perfectly reasonable.  If it's a dead cert - up to 10 is great as it's virtually a short course and you might get a discount, if you ask.

Be sure to get something physical

At John Wilmshurst Guitar Tuition, I have professionally printed gift certificates that you can give on the big day - it makes a huge difference to the delivery of the gift!  Be sure to get something similar from your guitar tutor if it is available - even a print-out.

Check out your tutor

Like any other business a good reliable guitar tutor will have an internet presence with some online information.  They will be experienced and have a good word of mouth reputation.  They will also be prepared to take the time to answer your questions and let you know what their waiting list is like, if they have one.  Do your research - a bad tutor can put off a promising student for years.  

Don't leave it last minute!

If you are planning on buying a gift certificate, how will you collect it or pay for it? Can you pay by card, or online?  If you pay by transfer, does it have to clear first?  If possible, try to visit the tutor to collect, or ask them to come to you if they do house calls. Don't expect the post to guarantee fast delivery, that's all I'm saying... 

Pay for quality

If you are looking for professional guitar tuition, you will be paying professional prices, somewhere within the region of $60+ per hour.
If somebody is advertising 'guitar lessons for $30 per hour' then be prepared to get only $30 worth of expertise, experience, reliability and service.  $75.00 well spent will save you time, effort and money in the long run. Just think, would you hire a $50 per hour lawyer and expect to get a good service?

There you have it, a few tips to help you find the perfect gift experience this Christmas.

Happy shopping!


Musical Alphabet | Chromatic Scale pt 1

Hi all,

Today we are going to be looking at the musical alphabet, otherwise known as the chromatic scale.  The chromatic scale contains all of the notes you will find on your guitar.  The musical alphabet is similar to our english ABC alphabet but it doesn’t go past G, in fact after G we start again at A.

The chromatic scale

The chromatic scale

You’ll notice that after some of the notes we have another version of it with a little # symbol next to it.  This is like a halfway step between that note and the next and is called a sharp.  The note A# (A sharp), is like A and a half  and then we move on to the note B.

We count up the scale (ascending) like this:
A, A#, B, C, C#, D , D#, E, F, F#, G, G# and then back to A.

Some of the notes don’t have a sharp, namely B and E.

If we look at the piano keyboard below, we can see the sharps are the black notes on the keyboard.


Click to hear the chromatic scale on the piano [Chromatic Scale].

Remember that I said B or E don’t have a sharp?
You can see on the piano that B/C and E/F there are no black notes.

  • Tip – you can remember this with the phrase “Never BE sharp”.

Applying the chromatic scale to the guitar

On the guitar we can apply the chromatic scale as the diagram below.  I have written it along the A string so it goes in the same order as above. Note that the open A string is the note A and the first fret A# and so on.


The fret on your guitar with the double dot (don’t worry if you don’t have this!) is the 12th fret.  When you reach this fret you should be on the same note as the one where you started on the open string.


If we were to apply the chromatic scale to a different string then we start counting from the note that string begins on.
For example, the E string starts on the note E and the first fret on the E string is the note F, the second F# and so on…  


When we get to the note A (5th fret) we keep on counting past it to A# then B etc because we can’t stop until we hit the 12th fret, which should be the same note as when we began (the note E, like the open string).
Because this can happen, it is a good idea to visualise the chromatic scale as a circle:


This way, if we start on any note (the B string for example) then we can keep counting round clockwise through all 12 notes until we end up back where we started.


Try playing the chromatic scale on all strings and counting up as you go.
Make sure you start with an open string (E,A,D,G,B or e) and end up on the 12th fret back at the note you started.


  • The chromatic scale is the musical alphabet
  • It contains 12 notes
  • It has no real beginning or end, it goes round and round in a circle
  • This symbol # means ‘sharp’ – like a half step between some notes
  • Never BE sharp – there is no B# or E#

Join me next time when we will go through part 2 of the chromatic scale.

Happy playing!


Have Guitar Lessons to Save Money

First published May 6th 2011

You would think that learning to play the guitar has never been easier, what with the internet and Youtube videos.  Music shops have shelves groaning under the weight of ‘how to’ books and DVDs of poodle-haired rock stars from the 80’s promising to reveal THE secret to learning to play the guitar, with little or no effort – like Joey from Friends, “you won’t even need a guitar!”??  Based on my twenty years of learning the guitar I can tell you that there is no hidden secret to reveal, nor are there any shortcuts .  
No matter how many videos you watch or books you read there will always be unanswered questions which no amount of re-reading or rewinding or will answer. 

The truth is that there is simply no substitute for having a real live teacher sitting across from you, tailoring your lessons to your exact needs, structuring and guiding you in the best and fastest way possible to develop your skills.

Eventually the day will come when you decide to stop spending money on books that you’ll never read and DVDs which end up propping up a wonky table, and you’ll decide to invest your hard-earned cash in booking a lesson with a guitar tutor.  A good teacher will inform, enthuse and inspire you to practice day after day, week after week and learn to take control of your own musical journey – not spoon you feed old rock guitar riffs and country songs for months on end.  They will ensure you understand what it is that you’re learning and show you how to get the most out of your precious practice time. They will structure your learning, motivating you, pushing you.  

It’s not impossible to learn on your own, but having someone who is experienced guiding you will save a lot of wasted time, space on your bookshelf and importantly, hard earned money!  They won’t however, be able to prop up your wonky table leg – you can use your old books and DVD’s for that.

John Wilmshurst