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I've taught around fifty students the guitar up to grade three.

Tuning Up

Essential! Don't worry about not being able to do this at the start, it will come with practise. Lots of young guitarists need helps in this respect, especially when starting out. Guitars require tuning every time they're played.

A cheap tuner will be very useful: Tiger sells one for about £6. Free apps are handy. The books I've recommended on this page come with tuning tracks on their CDs, which is actually a better way of tuning than by using a tuner since the guitarist learns to listen and tune up based on what they hear rather than see on a display. The same goes for the following video:-

Buying a guitar

I tend to buy both second-hand and new guitars in person, usually at Harmony Music in Dorchester and the music instrument heaven that is Absolute Music in Wallisdown.


I recommend the following books for learning to play guitar:

A notebook

Essential, for communication with parents, writing out music and explaining what was done in the lesson and what is to be done at home. Any small blank tough book will do!

Guitar Basics (Nick Walker & James Longworth)

Excellent book for young children up to about twelve. Features good original songs and a few essential learner classics such as James Bond and Smoke on the Water.


Focuses on melody-playing and note-picking rather since holding down lots of notes for strumming can be tricky for small, weaker hands. Comes with CD with good-quality backing tracks.. Beginner's Course (Justin Sandercoe)

This is my favourite book for all beginners beyond around twelve years old.


Very practical and full of great advice. It's compiled from the author's tuition website - check it out on youtube.


The book doesn't contain any songs; they're well available and well arranged with explanatory notes in the author's various songbooks such as Beginner's Songbook, Pop Songbook, Acoustic Songbook etc.

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Extra equipment

I recommend Trinity Rock and Pop exams and also use RGT and Rockschool.

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