How regularly do students come for lessons?
Most of my students come for an hour lesson weekly. This helps keep students focused and gives them a regular structure, and also allows me to keep an eye that bad habits aren’t creeping in! That said, I understand that not everybody can make weekly lessons, so individual arrangements can be made. If you’re able to come on weekday mornings or early afternoon I’m usually able to be more flexible.
Where do you teach?
Lessons are taught from my home in Long Ashton, Bristol (BS48 3QT).
How much do you charge for lessons?
Lessons are £30 for an hour, £23 for 45 minutes, or £16 for 30 mins (recommended for younger students).
I don’t know what instrument to play. Should I start on guitar or ukulele?
Most of you will be instantly drawn to one or the other, but if you’re unsure you’re more than welcome to come for a lesson and try out both instruments to see which you prefer. In terms of starting on an instrument, ukulele is a lot more beginner friendly – it only has four strings so it’s easier to play the basic chords. It’s also easier to press down the strings and can be a lot of fun. Some of my students have started on uke then moved on to guitar as well after a year or so.
Guitar has a bit more of a learning curve, but if you love the sound then it’s worth it! It has more warmth than the ukulele due to the two extra strings, and is very versatile.
Do you teach workshops?
Yes, I’ve taught workshops on Beginner Ukulele and Strumming for Ukulele. Please get in touch if you have any specific requirements.
Do I need my own instrument?
Yes. You are welcome to borrow or try out my instruments for the first lesson or two, just to get a feel for it, but after that you will need to buy your own instrument. To progress and get the most enjoyment out of playing you really need an instrument to practice and play with between lessons. You can pick up a decent ukulele for £25 upward – just beware of the really cheap bright coloured ones! (See below for more info). Naturally, for a guitar you can expect to spend more, depending on size and type of guitar (you may find this article helpful).
Where is the best shop in Bristol to buy my first ukulele?
Absolute Guitars in Backwell have a lovely range of ukes (worth mentioning my name if you go there :). More towards central Bristol it’s worth checking out Hobgoblin on Park Street – and while you’re there you could also check out Musicroom down the road.
If you’re ever in London you could visit the infamous Duke of Uke, a shop devoted entirely to ukuleles. Southern Ukulele Store in Bournemouth are also ukulele specialists and have a truly excellent range of ukuleles.
There’s not always an amazing variety in the local music shops, so it’s also worth considering buying online. Southern Ukulele Store have an online store, and will setup your instrument for you at no extra cost. I have also heard good things about Highly Strung, who offer the same service. The disadvantage of buying online is that you can’t try before you buy, however check the return policy – most online shops offer at least 7 days to return an instrument if you’re not happy with it for whatever reason.
So which brand of Ukulele do you recommend?
For a first ukulele I’d recommend spending at least £25 – any less than that and you might get problems with tuning, intonation and unplayably high action that will put you off playing. I’ve heard good things about Kala (e.g. the KA-S), Makala, and Lanikai (particularly the LU-21 series). As you go up in price your options expand greatly – gotaukulele.com has a good overview of some of the ukes going upwards. As always in buying an instrument, as long as it surpasses a baseline quality, the bottom line is to go with what feels and sounds good to you (i.e. trust your gut!)
What accessories do I need?
Especially if you’re just starting out, you’ll want an electronic tuner to help keep things sounding tuneful.
I’ve found Snark tuners to be some of the best – they are really accurate for the price, and work well for both ukulele and guitar (as well as many other instruments!).
If you’re playing guitar, I highly recommending getting a capo, which is a small clamp that you place across your fretboard. They are great for shifting songs to different keys quickly and easily, and essential for playing along accurately to certain songs. There are a number of brands out there, but personally I favour Kyser Capos – quick and easy to use, and long-lasting high quality.
While there are guitarists who play and strum with fingers only, if you want to experiment with getting the full clarity and volume from your guitar you will want to try using a pick (plectrum).
Picks are a very personal thing. I use Dunlop Tortex picks as general all-rounders, but it is worth trying out various different picks and weights to see what suits you.
How about ukulele? Well, I much prefer to play uke with my fingernails, but if you are looking for that extra bit of volume you might find a felt pick keeps the soft, delicate tone of ukulele alive while giving you an added boost.
If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via my Contact page 🙂