Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tips To Buy A Classical Guitar

IMG_4235_3 Buying a new guitar is always an exciting process for the beginner or experienced guitarist. A basic knowledge of the instrument and an assessment of your musical goals will help you make a wise purchase, a purchase you can enjoy for years, perhaps even a lifetime All guitars produce sound through the vibration of the strings. Classical guitars transmit the vibration of the string to the soundboard via the saddle and bridge. The combined resonance of the strings, saddle, bridge and soundboard are, in turn, amplified in the sound-box or body of the guitar. The design and quality of the, saddle, bridge and soundboard have a major impact on the guitar's sound.

Have in mind before buying…

Nylon produces a round, mellow sound and is the preferred sound for classical, Low, medium, normal and hard tension strings create a tension up 75-90 pounds. Less string tension makes a classic guitar easier to play. The fingerboard, 50-52 mm at the nut, provides room for intricate finger picking. The longer string, 650-655mm length from saddle to nut enhances the bass response and sustain. The classical guitar body style is smaller than most other acoustic designs which make the instrument easy to handle and feel. Always remember, when buying a handmade guitar, you are buying a live instrument. Temperature and humidity are the main factors to ruptures and instrument deterioration if not cared according to the maker's instructions. See" taking care of your guitar" below.

Setting Goals

What are your goals? Are you anticipating a serious hobby or majoring in music? If so, buy the best solid top guitar you can afford. An inexpensive guitar is a good choice if your goal is merely casual enjoyment for a semester or so (or if you're really poor!). Do you need to be amplified for church or stage? If so, an acoustic-electric classical will afford maximize versatility. Before shopping, decide on a budget so the dealer can show you guitars in your price range.

Trying Out a Guitar - Action

Each guitar is unique in feel due to variations in neck thickness and shape. If the neck is comfortable, the guitar will be easier to play. The string height above the fingerboard--the action--also influences playing ease. The action may vary according to personal taste and playing style. High action is difficult to play but allows buzz-free high volume playing. Low action is easy to play but buzzes during aggressive playing. A compromise between the two is best for most players. Fortunately, the action can be adjusted to suit your needs. If you are a steel-string player, remember that classical action is higher than steel-string action due to nylon's lower tension. Listen carefully to the timbre (tone color) of the guitar. A balance between dark and bright is the most versatile. However, timbre preference is subject to taste and playing style. If your right hand technique is on the bright side, a dark sounding guitar will help balance your tone. If you play without nails, a brighter guitar will help bring out the upper frequencies. Play single notes throughout the guitar's range and listen to how they sustain. Listen to the relationship of the bass notes to the treble. The bass should be firm with a long sustain. However, the treble notes must be able to stand out in relation to the bass so you can project the melody. Finally, have someone play the instrument so you can judge the projection. What's the difference in sound between a $300 guitar and a $3000 one? Budget guitars are less resonate and have a smaller tonal and dynamic range than expensive guitars.


Whether you are a beginning or advanced player, a quality guitar is crucial to your success and enjoyment. A fine instrument is easy to play, exudes workmanship, and sounds resonant and responsive. A quality instrument inspires you to practice and excel as a musician. Buy the best guitar you can afford and it will greatly enhance your learning and enjoyment. Note the quality of workmanship in the seating and polish of the frets, the binding between the top and sides, and in the finish. However, in all fairness, you normally get what you pay for. Budget guitars cost less because cheap materials and lesser workmanship are used to trim costs. Budget guitars should be playable but will have numerous finish defects, unpolished frets, messy glue joints, unsanded bracing and poorly adjusted action (a good dealer will adjust the action if needed). Premium quality guitars will have a near perfect fit and finish of all components. Even the interior bracing will be neatly glued and sanded smooth! Before purchasing a guitar, confirm that the tuning heads turn smoothly and allow reasonable pitch control. Fortunately, cheap or broken turning heads are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.

Price Ranges

Professional classical guitarists play instruments handcrafted by individual makers, e.g., Fleta, Hauser or Gilbert. Depending on the maker's reputation, these guitars cost $3,000 to $20,000. Guitars made by a specialized group of builders in a small shop cost from $1000 to $10,000 e.g., Ramírez, Hirade or Asturias. For most people these instruments are out of each. Most beginners are looking for an inexpensive guitar. Buyer beware: most guitars retailing for under $100 are disappointing junk. Don't throw your money away on a cheap toy, pay a little more and get a real guitar. Really cheap guitars have unacceptable compromises in design, materials and construction quality. Fortunately, there are many factory-made guitars costing from $150 to $300 that make fine beginning instruments.

Recommended Classic Guitars

These models are excellent values in their respective price ranges. Granada guitars from Sevilla- Spain range form $299- $499, Prudencio Saez - guitars form Torrent - Spain. range from $380 -$1,800. Amalio Burguet guitars- Catarroja- Spain, range from $999- $4,500.

Happy New Year

I take opportunity to say “Happy New Year” to all my friends and follower here. 2009 was a busy year for me. Work pressure and travelling almost eats up all my time. I wish I will be able to spend more time in this blog in 2010.

I wish you all have a great year of 2010.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bach's Suite - Air On G String

The famous "Air on a G-string" from Bach's Suite for Orcherstra no. 3. I like this arrangement very much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Canon in D

I found this video when I browse around youtube. This piece is arranged and played by Per-Olov Kindgren.  Enjoy

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Free Online Ear Training

It's been a while I haven't updated the blog. I was extremely busy for the past 6 months. Change in working position, moving to a new house......... And importantly, I found quite many people visit my blog, and download the material from sendspace. However, I received only few compliment and most of the mail were sent to me asking for material, and tell me the files are unavailable anymore in my Sendspace account. I make no income from this site, and thus cannot afford to pay for permanent Sendspace account. Please tolerate!

Anyway, I found some good site that help training a musician's ear. Pretty good!!!

This program is unique because it helps associate intervals to common songs, which is the fastest way to learn.

There is a free program that you can download called GNU Solfege

  • Recognise melodic and harmonic intervals
  • Compare interval sizes
  • Sing the intervals the computer asks for
  • Identify chords
  • Sing chords
  • Scales
  • Dictation
  • Remembering rhythmic patterns
  • and more..

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Olcott-Bickford, Vahdah (1885-1980)


Ethel Lucretia Olcott (Bickford Revere) was born on October 17, 1885 in Norwalk, Ohio, twenty miles south of Lake Erie. At the age of two she moved with her parents to Socorro, New Mexico. When she was three, the family moved to Los Angeles, California.

Olcott-Bickford began the study of guitar at the age of eight with a woman whom she described as having violet eyes and blonde hair. When nine years old, she met George Lindsey (1855-1943), a vendor of guitars and accessories, who was looking for a carriage house to rent for his springwagon and horse. A conversation over the fence ensued and eventually little Lucretia played the guitar for him. A student-teacher friendship developed, which lasted until George Lindsey died in 1943. Mr. Lindsey was responsible for her meeting with Manuel Ferrer (1828-1904). Upon hearing her play, Ferrer invited her in 1903 to stay with his family in Berkeley, California, to receive tutoring every day. This episode in her life lasted for only a year but was a memorable one, as Ferrer was one of the most distinguished resident guitarists in America, having established a world-wide reputation through concerts and publications.

Olcott-Bickford, now eighteen, returned to her parents' home in Los Angeles, where she published her first opus, "Theme for Variations on 'Nel cor piu non mi sento,''' a duo aria from L'Amor contrastato, better known as La Molinara, by Paisello, with Carl Fischer in 1905. She eventually went to New York in 1914, where she became involved in the musical and intellectual life and times of the period.

In New York she became known through her concerts and teaching of the guitar. She lived for a time with the famous Vanderbilt family at Biltmore, and tutored both Mrs. Vanderbilt and her daughter, Cornelia. At this time she also became involved with astrology, from which she derived her new name, Vahdah. She was Evangeline Adams's only assistant for nine years, until 1922. During this period she performed the Giuliani Concerto No. 3, op. 20 for terz guitar and orchestra. She also met Myron Bickford, organist, conductor, composer-musician and instrumentalist par excellence, and whom she married in 1915. In 1923 Vahdah and Zarh (Myron's astrological name) moved to Los Angeles and established residence at 2031 Holly Hill Terrace, after a brief stay on West Adams near downtown Los Angeles. In Zarh's words:

Vahdah Olcott-Bickford's arrival in Los Angeles marked the beginning of activities which led to the formation of what was first called the "Los Angeles Guitar Society." This was the first guitar society to appear in the United States. Inspired by the presence of such a well-known guitarist, teacher and writer as Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, Mr. J. A. Larralde, a local guitar enthusiast, invited -- one day in September, 1923 -- a group of guitarists, teachers, students, etc., to come together at his office in the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building to meet this new, vital personality. This gathering of 30 or 35 people, intended as an informal social function, evolved finally as the inauguration meeting of the Society. Vahdah Olcott Bickford quickly vetoed the rather arbitrary plans -- first presented -- of meeting weekly, playing and talking shop by saying she wouldn't be interested in such an aimless group. Her ambitious dynamism fired them all with the desire to take part in her plans for a definite educational program to promote interest in the classic guitar. She wanted to actively sponsor concerts, encourage composers to enrich the literature of the guitar and urge the sale of such literature in all music publications. The group unanimously and immediately appointed her Musical Director of the Society. Other officials elected on that occasion were George C. Lindsey (one of Vahdah's childhood teachers) as President and Zarh Bickford as Vice-President. In an effort to widen the scope of interest in the classic guitar, the name of the Society was changed to the "American Guitar Society" at Vahdah Bickford's suggestion. To help their promotion, Vahdah donated the proceeds from several of her concerts to establish a "Publication Fund" for the purpose of publishing superior works for the guitar. (Guitar Review, No. 23, June, 1959)

Olcott-Bickford's contributions to the guitar have been acknowledged since 1901. Many of her articles were published in Cadenza, Crescendo, Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar, Die Guitarre (Munich), Guitar News (London), and many other magazines and journals. She was written about in The Guitar and Mandolin (Philip Bone, 1914), where she was given credit for her "enthusiasm, encouragement and practical assistance" in the first edition of this work. Along with William Foden and George Krick, she is noted in Die Guitarre und ihre Meister (1926, 4th ed.) by Fritz Buek as the first woman guitarist to give a performance in Town Hall, and to play Giuliani's Third Concerto in New York (c.1915). A. P. Sharpe, editor of Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar, in his Story of the Spanish Guitar (London: Clifford Essex Music, 1954) mentions her two-volume Guitar Method at about the time Julian Bream stated that he had already "devoured them" in order to further his own serious study of the guitar. Many other articles and books indicate Olcott-Bickford's contribution to elevating classic guitar to an instrument of serious study. Her work in North America's is equivalent to that which Andrés Segovia did for more than fifty years. However, her work was recognized in the United States thirty years earlier.

Among musicians, she was known as a musician's musician. She developed a reputation from the 1930s through the 1950s as one of the few classic guitarists who could sight-read anything placed before her. She promoted ensemble music for guitarists by always placing her students in duos, trios and quartets with other guitarists and other instrumentalists. She pointed out the charm of the chamber music experience. She made sure that her students were exposed to music other than guitar compositions by means of transcriptions. This demonstrates her concern for broadening the students' knowledge of musical literature.

Vahdah, the Grand Lady of the Guitar, produced more than 160 opera (works), much of it published by Oliver Ditson and Carl Fischer. Her transcriptions and facsimile editions were published solely through the American Guitar Society (AGS). The majority of her publications are now out of print, while many, still in manuscript form, remain unpublished, numbering nearly 500 works. Her spirit, however, always filled with song, enthusiasm and encouragement, lives on through those students and friends who were fortunate to have known one of the pioneers of the American classic guitar.


Download the Complete Olcott-Birckford, Vahdah Method for Classical Guitar

The Guitar in Pedagogy - Practice - Performance

by Richard Pick, School of Guitar



A Word from the Publisher


Book I

  • The Nature of the Guitar
  • The Right Hand
  • The Left Hand
  • Practice Routine
  • Chromatic Calisthenics

Book II -- The Sharp Keys

  • C Major - A minor
  • G Major - E minor
  • D Major - B minor
  • A Major - F# minor
  • E Major - C# minor
  • B Major - G# minor
  • F# Major - D# minor
  • C# Major - A# minor


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing the Guitar

By: Noad, Frederick


Learn to play the guitar using this quick and easy guide. Whether you dream of playing classical guitar, a B.B. King lick, or just the opening bars to "Stairway to Heaven," this book can get you there. This easy-to-use guide introduces the beginning guitarist to all styles of playing, from classical to jazz and pop. Using basic exercises and a selection of popular tunes, it shows how to do everything from reading tablature and chord diagrams to performing simple accompaniment. This book is designed for the child or adult beginner who wants a "user-friendly" introduction to the most popular musical instrument. It contains numerous sidebars and illustrations, making learning the guitar fun and easy. Features exercises in all styles from classical to rock and jazz. Includes checklists of popular books, videos and instrument dealers, and tips on purchasing and maintaining your instrument. Frederick Noad is an expert guitar teacher and author of dozens of guitar methods, including The Virtual Guitarist, Solo Guitar Playing and Playing the Guitar, all from Schirmer Books. He is the inventor of Speed Score, the computer notation software and is universally known as a master teacher of the instrument.



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