Guitar lessons in Edinburgh

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Welcome to the guitar lessons in Edinburgh blog! Here we've got some lesson material mixed in with some musings on learning music in general. Feel free to join in!


By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Nov 2 2018 02:22PM

If you're a pick style guitarist, you're often encouraged to pick when you practice, and when you play. But is this a good idea? As with any stylistic choice, there are pros and cons to both sides, being an Edinburgh guitar teacher it's a question I've often pondered. For me personally, I've always been a pick style guitarist and so in a 'grass is always greener' kind of way, have always wondered if minimal picking would be the best way to go. So let's discuss that: The main negative behind picking is that learning to co-ordinate the right and left hand to pick accurately takes a long time. A very long time. If it was given the attention it deserves, it would consume the vast majority of any Edinburgh guitar lesson. Possibly the biggest technical challenge to any pick style guitarist; if you try and pick what you play you're essentially adding hundreds of hours to your practice time if you want to get a clean sound. It's very hard to get right, which brings us to the next issue: legato. When using a pick one has to be very careful and listen attentively to ensure 'true legato' is being used, it's so easy to unintentionally leave spaces between the notes and end up with a very messy sound. When slurring, using either slides, pull-offs or hammer-ons the legato is built in to the technique so there's less room for gaps. You also end up with some natural dynamics (listen to John Scofield!), the picked notes will come out as accents and the slurred notes un-accented, giving you some interesting dynamics without much effort. Sounds like a lot of pros, but apart from the fact that picked notes sound cool (of course they do!), you lose control when you rely on slurring techniques. The ability to fully control the attack and dynamic range of the notes is harder (listen to Pat Martino as an example) when relying on slurring. Achieving even note values is also more difficult without picking, and lastly the actual fingering required to play various melodies has to be changed to accommodate a slurring technique, whereas by picking every note you can pretty much play anything anywhere. Overall it's kind of a question of practice time, if you've got the hours ahead of you available then being able to pick effectively is definitely useful. Otherwise, learn to slur! As always, to find out more visit

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, May 9 2017 02:00AM

Find the best guitar lessons Edinburgh has to offer, or even find the

best guitar lessons in the world, study the instrument your entire life

and, chances are, you won't come close to Allan Holdsworth.

Holdsworth (who sadly passed away on April 15) was, without question,

one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived. To call him

inimitable would be an understatement, he was completely untouchable, as

a guitar teacher in Edinburgh he is the one guitarist I have never

attempted to emulate myself let alone try and pass on to students. He

had such a peerless style, from his sound to his sense of harmony right

down to his technique it seemed as if he'd learned to play music from

another planet, ignoring all our conventional ideas. There have since

been a slew of copycats of course, the Holdsworth 'sound' is usually

characterized by a combination of 'out' harmony, legato and distortion

in a jazz context. However, his style of legato is often misinterpreted

as standard hammer ons and pulls off (and to be honest there's nothing

wrong with that, I personally think the legato sound is usually a good

one even if it's not accurate to what he was doing) when in fact it was

exclusively hammer ons, even when going to a lower finer on the same

string. He achieved this by playing a hammer on 'from nowhere' and

co-ordinating it with his other finger so there was no gap in the

legato. He did this to avoid the kind of plucked sound you get with a

pull off. It's a cool way of playing, but it would require complete

dedication to that style to get good at it; he said himself in an

interview that he worked very hard to achieve varying volumes with every

finger, so he could accent any note. It's worth giving this style of

playing a go even if you don't master it, you'll see that your hammer

ons have to be on point! He also had a unique approach to scales,

harmony and chords, having made up most of his own scales (a few of

which are the same as the standard modes) and chord inversions (which he

talks about in his instructional video). If you're going to learn the

guitar I don't suggest you try to copy Allan Holdworth, but give him a

listen for inspiration! As always if you want to learn more, don't

hesitate to get in touch at

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