Guitar ColoursProspective students (and parents of young students) usually have a lot of questions before taking up lessons. Some of the most commonly asked questions are answered for you here! Just click the question to show the answer below. If there’s any question you might have that hasn’t been answered here, or if your looking to discuss a topic in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Will I need to buy a guitar before I start lessons?
No you don’t need to buy a guitar before you start lessons. If you don’t have your own guitar yet, feel free to attend your free first lesson and your first few lessons after that before you commit to purchasing a guitar. Here at CGA we understand that you might want to see how you like learning the instrument before purchasing one, so we have acoustic and electric guitars to loan you during your lesson. Just keep in mind that the sooner you buy a guitar, the sooner you can start practicing at home and improving your technique. So if you know you’ll be continuing to learn guitar after your first lesson or two, you should start looking at purchasing your first guitar, and we’re always willing to provide advice on guitar purchases. See some of the questions below for more tips on buying your first guitar.

Do I have to start with a classical acoustic guitar? Can I start with an electric?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have to start out on a classical (nylon string acoustic) guitar. The type of guitar you should start learning on depends on your personal taste and the styles of music you’d like to learn to play. See our Guitar Buyer’s Guide below for an explanation of the differences in playing and the styles of music associated with classical, steel-stringed acoustic, and electric guitars. If you’re not sure what kind of guitar to start out with, you can always come in for your free first lesson, try different types of guitars out, and chat with Matt, our guitar tutor, about what kind of guitar would be the best fit for you.

How much should I spend on my first guitar?
How much you will spend on your first guitar will all depend on your budget and the type of guitar you want to buy. (See previous question on choosing a type of guitar to start out with.) Once you’ve decided what type of guitar you’ll be shopping for, you should then set your budget. Think about the money you’ll be spending on your first guitar as an investment. You may initially want to purchase a cheaper-end guitar in case you (or your child if you’re the parent of a prospective student) lose interest in the instrument. However, we’ve seen many times that investing in a good quality instrument at the beginning actually helps to keep a new student interested and committed to learning. The fact is that a cheap instrument will be of poorer quality, and so it may not sound good, feel good, or play very well, and this can be quite discouraging when you’re first learning to play. You should also keep in mind that quality instruments can typically be sold used for 1/2 to 3/4 of the purchase price, so if learning the guitar doesn’t work out, you can get some of the initial investment in the instrument back.

As such, we recommend that you expect to spend at least $200 for a quality, brand new guitar at retail. We do recommend shopping retail, as you can’t always trust listings in online auction sites (used guitars may have mechanical issues) and you can rely on warranties and return policies from retailers. We also recommend shopping around a bit to find a good price, and even checking prices at online stores, as you can always discuss price with a retailer if you know other merchants are offering the same guitar at a cheaper price. And we always recommend the student try a guitar out before purchasing it to ensure there are no mechanical or cosmetic defects and that it looks and feels comfortable to the player. See our Guitar Buyer’s Guide below for a chart of guitar types and brands (with prices) that we recommend for new students.

I'm left-handed (or my son/daughter is). Do I need to buy a left-handed guitar?
Most likely you won’t need to buy a left-handed guitar. Most left-handed students learn to play a standard guitar without any difficulty, because the movements and motor control required are so new and unique to guitar playing. As such, the extra money you’d have to pay for a left-handed instrument will most likely not be necessary. We recommend left-handed students start learning on a standard guitar, and if you’re unsure about making an initial investment with a guitar that is not left-handed, we have guitars you can borrow for your first few lessons. Consider trying out left-handed guitars at a music store if learning with a standard guitar doesn’t feel right or natural after a few lessons.

What do I need to bring to my first lesson?
Just bring yourself, and if you have a guitar already, bring that too! (If not we can lend one to you during your lesson). We’ll also e-mail you a new student packet that you can fill out and bring with you. Your first lesson is free and no-obligation, but be prepared to answer a few questions about yourself. We’d like to know a bit more about you so we can tailor a lesson plan to you. So think about about how you’d describe your current skill level, which bands, styles, and genres you’re interested in, what some of your favorite songs are, and the goals you have for yourself as a guitarist.

How experienced do I have to be before I can get lessons?
You don’t have to have any experience at all! We can teach you even if you’ve never touched a guitar before. In fact, being new to the guitar is an ideal time to get one-on-one lessons, in order to ensure you learn proper techniques and prevent bad habits from forming that can limit your ability as you advance in skill. But even if you’ve already begun to experiment or teach yourself to play guitar, there’s no need to worry about improper technique or bad habits. There’s nothing that we can’t re-teach or help you to overcome so that you can continue to achieve your goals as a guitarist.

What can I expect from my first lesson?
In your free, no-obligation first lesson, we’ll be going over what you know about music and playing guitar already, what your goals are as a guitarist, and what your strengths and weaknesses might be. We’ll also discuss your musical tastes and preferences. These things will help guide us in setting short-term and long-term goals and developing a unique and effective lesson plan for you. But don’t worry, the first lesson isn’t all talk. You will definitely leave your first lesson having learned something new and feeling empowered to begin improving your skill and technique as a guitarist, no matter where your level or experience is currently at.

What can I expect from my continuing lessons?
As you continue weekly guitar tuition, we will guide you through achieving your goals as you continually hone your skill in the playing and musical style of your choice. You will learn the techniques, skills, and even theory that will make you into the guitarist you want to be. Our overarching goal as your guitar tutor is to help you not only reach your goals and milestones, but to help you to become a true guitarist, not just someone who can play guitar.

If you’re pursuing a school certificate, high school certificate, AMEB certificate, or college level courses, we’ll tailor your weekly lessons to help you not only pass your exams, but to perform at a high standard and achieve high marks.

How much practice will be required each week?
Practice is much more about how consistently you practice each week, rather than how long you practice for. For example, practicing 10 minutes per day each week will help you achieve better results than practicing 70 minutes straight once per week. An optimal amount of practice would be 20-30 minutes every chance you get, about once per day. And there’s no need to stress about missing a day, as long as you practice the next chance that you get. It’s also important to stay focused and consistent with your exercises while practicing, but don’t be hesitant to experiment with your instrument during your practice sessions. You will be given exercise and music sheets each week to help keep you on target to improving the techniques and skills you’ll be working on.

Will I have to buy a lesson book?
No, you won’t need to buy a lesson book for regular guitar tuition. (You do need a lesson book if you’re pursuing an AMEB certificate.) Matt tailors guitar lessons to each individual student’s skill level, speed of learning, and musical tastes and creates a personalized lesson plan for each student. When you start lessons, you’ll receive a display folder which will become your own personal lesson book. It will be added to each week with custom practice sheets, music sheets, tips, and more for you to focus on to continually improve your skills.

What styles of music will I be able to learn?
We’ll teach you any musical style or genre you’re interested in! You won’t be limited to lesson books (see previous question), specific styles, or genres. In fact, from your very first lesson Matt will help you choose a song to learn from your favorite genre that fits your skill level.

Do you offer AMEB, HSC, or other certificate tuition?
Yes, we gladly offer tuition for students pursuing a school, high school, or AMEB (Australian Music Education Board) certificate. Matt specializes in helping students to achieve high marks on their exams, and will tailor weekly lessons to help students achieve their goals for their formal music education and certificates. AMEB students in particular will need to purchase a lesson book, and are recommended to receive hour-long weekly lessons.

Guitar Buyer's Guide
Nylon String Acoustic (Classical and Flamenco Guitars)
Associated styles of Music: Classical, Flamenco, Late 80s to early 90s Heavy Metal acoustic sections.
Strings: Nylon strings (about $9.99 for a replacement set)
Accessible frets: 12 (or more depending on rarer examples)
Average Scale length: 650mm (25.6”) Full size || 578mm (22.75”) 3/4 size || 522mm (20.5”) 1/2 size
Pros: Usually inexpensive. Very light bodies. Simple functionality. Somewhat easy to play.
Cons: Seldom used in contemporary modern music. Can be difficult to play depending on the guitar’s action (string height to the fretboard). Very limited range due to the limited number of accessible frets (frets that can be played before it’s uncomfortable for the fretting hand to reach). Can be difficult to play more complex chords due to a flatter neck radius.
Typical Prices for Starter Models
Size Ashton Cort Epiphone Ibanez Fender Yamaha
3/4 Size $129 $249 $199
Full Size $139 $349 $849 $199 $399 $219
Steel String Acoustic
Associated styles of Music: Alternative, Blues, Country, Jazz, Pop and Rock.
Strings: Steel strings (about $8.99 for a replacement set)
Accessible frets: 15 (or more depending on examples)
Average Scale length: 635mm (25”) Full size || 565mm (22.25”) 3/4 size || 508mm (20”) 1/2 size
Pros: Can be used in a wide range of musical styles. Better fret access than classical guitars. Shorter scale length than Classical Guitars. Designed for easy chordal playing. Excellent instrument for singer/songwriters.
Cons: Can be difficult to play depending on the guitars action (string height to the fretboard). Can be harder to play due to thicker strings that have a higher tension, making them harder to press down. Some can have very wide necks, making them harder to play for beginners and people with shorter fingers.
Typical Prices for Starter Models
Size Ashton Cort Epiphone Ibanez Fender Yamaha
3/4 Size $209 $249 $199
Full Size $229 $229 $209 $229 $249 $299
Electric Guitar
Associated styles of Music: Alternative, Blues, Country, Jazz, Pop, Rock and Metal.
Strings: Nickel strings (about $8.50 for a replacement set)
Accessible frets: 22 (or more depending on examples)
Average Scale length: 635mm (25”) Full size || 565mm (22.25”) 3/4 size || 508mm (20”) 1/2 size
Pros: Can be used in the widest range of musical styles. Better fret access than any other type of guitar. Shorter scale length than Classical Guitars and can be shorter than Steel String Acoustics. Designed for chord playing and melodic playing. Excellent instrument for bands. Easiest to play.
Cons: Has a (sometimes) overwhelming amount of functionality. Requires extra maintenance and care.
Note: Although it doesn’t require one, having a guitar amp is beneficial, which will also require you to have other accessories such as guitar leads.
Typical Prices for Starter Models
Size Ashton Cort Epiphone Ibanez Fender Yamaha
3/4 Size $219 $199
Full Size $349 $299 $289 $279 $229 $449