Tag Archives: guitar

Guitar buyers guide by Eagle Music including explanations of guitar types

Eagle Music explains all the the difference between acoustic guitars, classical and Spanish guitars, all solid timber guitars, laminate top guitars, electro-acoustic guitars dreadnought, jumbo size. Cutaway and what all this means in simple jargon.

There are three critical but simple decisions that you our valued customer should make when buying a guitar:-

Buy from a Specialist Company… that will set up the instrument correctly
Eagle Music is one of Europe’s leading acoustic guitar specialist shops

Buy the Best Quality instrument… that is within your budget
Eagle Music carry one of Europe’s largest selection of world class guitar brands

Choose the Correct Guitar… for the kind of music that you want to play
Eagle Music’s specialist musician sales team  will ensure this for you

The notes below will help you choose the guitar that is the right model for you.

Recognised as one of the Europe’s premier acoustic instrument specialist stores, Eagle Music offers a second to none range of all types of guitar. Along with acoustic and electro acoustic models, we also supply and can give help and advice on pure electric guitars. We offer some of the finest hand-crafted instrument brands that have many models within the range that are built from all solid timber. The leading world class brands  that we supply include Patrick James Eggle, Martin, Asher, Gibson, Taylor, Tanglewood, Sigma, Crafter and Yamaha.

These finely crafted instruments will grow to sound better with age, and will appreciate in value in the long term – although it is always a better idea to buy for playing rather than investment! The arrival of Taylor on the top-class guitar scene, with their amazing consistency of quality and modern manufacturing techniques, motivated all the other top makers into their move towards modern production methods, thus ensuring that quality relative to price has moved in the favour of the buyer.

The choice of your first guitar can be daunting as there are so many different guitar types and even more confusing in that there are so many models within a certain type!

From the 1940’s onwards the guitar has become the most popular stringed instrument as a first choice for a beginner wanting to play music because it encompasses and complements so many different types of music, including classical, traditional, folk, jazz, rock etc.
To make things easier, we shall explain in our technical sheets below the differences between guitar types.
In simple terms the guitar family is divided into two categories:

Nylon Strung

Music played: Classical, Spanish, Flamenco (Also crosses over to folk music)
Steel Strung: (Also called Western guitar) Music played: Folk, rock, jazz, funk also crosses over to classical

Another point to note here is that both guitar types can be supplied in different sizes.
eg. a nylon strung classical guitar can be supplied in  ½ size, ¾ size or 4/4 full size

A smaller ½ size or ¾ size nylon strung guitar is excellent for a young beginner because the nylon strings are easier to press down than a steel strung guitar. Many players start their playing life on a half size ‘classical’ type guitar.
All the above guitar types can be supplied with pick-ups already fitted to them. Eg. when a pick-up is fitted to an acoustic guitar it becomes an electro-acoustic guitar. Pure electric guitars in general have a solid wood body and are of no use for playing acoustically.

So, whether you want to be an acoustic street playing solo singer guitarist, on-stage-electric lead guitarist, chord backing jazz player in a dance band, flamenco or classical player there is a guitar that is designed and built purely for the purpose.

We shall explain in the individual guitar technical sheets all the different materials and timbers  that guitars are built from eg. laminate top, solid top, all solid timber etc. and shall also explain the different types, shapes and specific sizes of the guitar.

Guide to Buying an Acoustic Nylon strung Guitar

How to choose a Classical, Spanish or Flamenco guitar, which are also called ‘Nylon Strung Guitars’ are all described here by Eagle Music. Spruce or cedar top? solid or laminate timber? all the technical information you need is here in our technical notes.

Classical – Spanish and Flamenco Guitars

Many guitarists start their playing life on what is called a ‘Spanish Guitar’, or ‘Classical’ guitar. This guitar type is generally fitted with nylon strings in the configuration of first, second and third strings in plain nylon and the fourth, fifth and sixth strings metal wound on silk.

We stock a full range of nylon strung guitars from lower priced beginners / childrens models up to all solid timber professional models by various world class makers. The classical guitar has a wider neck than a western type guitar and also has a flat fingerboard. This type of neck with wider string spacing and the nylon strings leans itself more towards ‘finger-style’ solo melody playing.  The wider neck means a little more stretching for the fretting hand but the nylon strings are easier to press down for a beginner than the steel strings on a western type guitar.

Fingerstyle means playing the guitar with the tips of the finger nails. Although nylon strung guitars are best played finger style, they can be picked or strummed with a plectrum.

The general timber used for this guitar would a spruce or cedar top (soundboard) with mahogany,  rosewood or other type of laminate or solid timber for the back and sides. The neck is usually made from solid mahogany with a rosewood or ebony fingerboard.

In general classical players like the sweeter tone of a solid spruce soundboard (top) and flamenco music players would choose a cedar top which gives a brighter tone.

See our technical pages for the definition and explanation of laminate and solid timbers that are used for building guitars.

Check out our range of classical guitars from some of the world’s top makers Including many models that are made in Spain from Admira and the renowned workshops of B&M, Manuel Rodriguez and Tanglewood.

Guide to Buying an ACOUSTIC Steel Strung Guitar

Steel strung acoustic guitars are available in many different body shapes and sizes all of which have specific names. The most popular is the dreadnought shape.

Some other shapes starting from the smallest are travel, parlour, folk-body, auditorium, grand auditorium and jumbo.

There are other shapes and designs including many jazz guitar models that have ‘f’ holes and arch topped bodies!

In general, western guitars, as they are sometimes called, have larger bodies than nylon strung guitars. They mostly have narrower necks than classical guitars. They have radiused fingerboards and  ‘fast action’ necks  making them and very well suited to single note flat-picking styles. Many singer guitarists use a plectrum and strum along with this type of guitar.

This type of acoustic guitar is the most popular choice for playing pop, folk, country, bluegrass and jazz guitar music.

Electro Acoustic Guitars

Its simple really, an electro-acoustic guitar is basically an acoustic guitar that is fitted with a pickup system.

Steel-strung guitars, and a nylon-strung guitars are available ready-fitted with a pickup system. there are various systems from simple under the saddle transducers to sophisticated models that have what are called ‘blender systems’ that have a transducer type pickup and an internal microphone fitted that you blend together for the sound that you desire.

You then need to plug your guitar into an amplifier or PA system to get a louder relatively acoustic sound. Six string and twelve string models are available.

Many electro-acoustic guitars are designed with a cutaway body (part of the guitar’s body is cut away and missing adjacent the top frets above the 12th …enabling the guitarist to use these higher notes in classic rock ‘n’ roll style!

In general, it is cheaper to buy a dedicated electro acoustic guitar than to buy an acoustic guitar and fit a pickup system as a retrofit.

However, Eagle Music offers a workshop facility and fits pick up systems to guitars as a service for customers.

All Solid Timber

A guitar that is made from ‘all solid timber’ means that the back, sides, top and neck are all made from solid timber rather than laminate timber. These special ‘timbers’ are often referred to as Tonewood or Tonewoods.

All solid timber instruments produce a better quality of tone, more power and get even better as they age. They also hold their value better and in many cases gain value in time.

At Eagle Music Shop we offer some of the finest hand-crafted instrument brands that have many models within the range that are built from all solid timber. The leading world class brands  that we supply include Patrick James Eggle, Martin, Asher, Gibson, Taylor, Tanglewood, Sigma, Crafter and Yamaha.

These finely crafted instruments will grow to sound better with age, and will appreciate in value in the long term – although it is always a better idea to buy for playing rather than investment! The arrival of Taylor on the top-class guitar scene, with their amazing consistency of quality and modern manufacturing techniques, motivated all the other top makers into their move towards modern production methods, thus ensuring that quality relative to price has moved in the favour of the buyer.

Solid Top and Laminate Top Guitars

You may have noticed mentions of solid tops and laminate tops. The ‘top’ is the ‘soundboard’ of the guitar. Generally, the cheaper guitars have laminate tops, as they are quicker and easier to make. However, depending on the country of origin and the name that is on the headstock, you may sometimes find a solid top less expensive than another brand offering a guitar with a laminate top.

The way a laminate top guitar sounds on the day of purchase will be the way they will sound all through their lives. Many are great sounding and very good value for money.

Solid top guitars, on the other hand, cost more to make, as the choice of pieces of wood is crucial, and the construction has to be more accurate to stop the top bending. But they generally sound far more resonant and produce more volume – and as the wood matures, the sound matures too! About 90% of the sound of a guitar comes from the top (soundboard), so you will often find solid tops and laminate back and sides. This is a good compromise between price and sound quality.
The vast majority of our stock falls into this category. A few short years ago, solid top instruments were produced in small numbers in the USA and Europe, and were demanding very high prices. But in the past ten years or so a host of new companies, first in Japan, then Korea and now throughout the far-east, has changed all that.

Now we have an enormous selection of excellently constructed, affordable, great-sounding solid tops at unbelievable prices. Our Tanglewood Sundance and Heritage range represents the best value of all factory manufactured guitars, many of these models are hand finished. also check out the excellent value range of sigma Guitars Not only that, but western manufacturers. Also Seagull, Simon & Patrick and Norman of Canada are also producing very affordable, excellent quality solid top guitars.

Guitar Care & Maintenance – Looking after your guitar, a guide by Eagle Music

We are often asked how do I look after my guitar  and how do I clean it? Here eagle Music answers in simple terms the important do’s and don’ts regarding general care of your guitar, storing, cleaning and transporting your guitar safely.

Eagle Music Shop has a fully equipped on-site workshop facility and offers a full set-up and repair service for stringed instruments.


In general musical instruments like the same environment as their player, conditions where it is not too hot or hot and certainly not wet or damp! Keep your guitar clean and free from dust,dirt and moisture. In a UK home, its OK to leave your instrument on a stand between playing sessions, in fact we encourage this as it makes you pick up the instrument more frequently to play and practise. Buy a decent quality stand to keep your instrument ‘out of the way’ in a corner of the room. Never leave it near a radiator or in a window where direct sunlight can fall upon the instrument and bake it! Also, never leave your instrument stored in a cold or damp place eg. cellar, loft or out in the garage


Each time you have played your guitar give it a wipe over with a lint free cloth to remove finger marks. the strings can be cleaned with Fast Fret, martin or Dr Kyser string cleaning lubricant …all these products can be bought ‘off-the-shelf’ from Eagle Music. From time to time you may want to polish your instrument, always check that this is suitable for the finish on your instrument eg. On a modern gloss finish, always choose a non-smear wax free polish. Always remove finger and body marks from Nickel plated or gold plated hardware and use the special impregnated cleaning cloths that are available for this purpose. Never use abrasive cleaners as this can remove the plating! Chrome hardware is much easier to keep clean and is much harder wearing.


Care of your guitar during transportation really depends on where it is being transported to, and how it is being transported. Hard-shell cases and Gig bags have their pros and cons. It can be said that a padded gig bag is sufficient to take your instrument out to the pub or a jam session.But please note:- when using a gig bag, you must always remember that your instrument can still be damaged if you don’t take extreme care of how you handle it, how you put it down and where you leave it, other persons can sit on your gig bag! Also, If you are a gigging musician, It wouldn’t be a good idea to put your gig bag/ instrument in the back of a van or in the boot of a car with PA gear and other hard objects! We recommend a hard-shell case always for gigging musicians.

If you’re travelling by by airplane we recommend a hard-shell or even better a flight case. Also, for added protection  ‘bubble wrap’ your hard-shell case before letting it go in the hold of an airplane …the handling of baggage at airports can be very rough! Our Hiscox range of lite-flight cases is excellent or you could have a more expensive flight case made by Keith Calton.

Check out our Black-Ice and Extreme Protection range of well thought out quality gig bags. For hard-shell cases check out our Leader, Hiscox, Deering, Kinsman etc. range of top quality brands.

How often should you change the strings on your banjo, guitar, mandolin etc?

We are often asked the question ‘How often should I change my Strings’?
In the following notes, Eagle Music  gives examples of how strings are affected by different players and how they react to usage. How strings ‘work’ and the frequency that you should change them.

There are many answers to this question and it all depends on the player. A professional player who works his strings hard, may change strings for every performance to insure against string breakage during a live performance. A general rule for all players, is to change your strings when they have lost their tone and tune-ability.

Strings have a different tolerance to each individual player. Some players have dry hands and can make their strings last longer, and some players have ‘rusty fingers’ that corrode strings fairly quickly. It’s all relative to how much acid and skin debris you deposit on your strings from your fingers.

The strings are a ‘disposable’ part on your banjo and relatively inexpensive. They greatly affect the tuning, tone, power and projection of your banjo. A new set of strings can transform your instrument and the enjoyment that you will get from it.

Here are some notes for your consideration:

  • New strings are brighter with better tone and volume
  • New strings tune easily
  • Some players like their strings to be ‘played in’ for a week or so, at which time the tone mellows
  • Old ‘dying’ strings are difficult to tune, have poor tone and volume
  • Low cost ‘budget’ strings wear out and die quickly
  • Nickel strings are bright and metallic
  • Phosphor bronze strings have a warmer tone
  • Nickel wound strings last longer than phosphor bronze wound and are less reactive to players who have ‘rusty fingers’

String cleaners eg. Fast-Fret and Kyser prolong string life and keep strings brighter for longer – Use before and after each playing session.

Coated strings eg. Elixir last longer but some players don’t like the ‘feel’ of the coating.

Changing the strings on your Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Ukulele etc – advice from Eagle Music

Eagle Music explains here all the do’s and don’ts when fitting a new set of strings to your instrument. It is important that you understand that the weight, size and tension of your strings affects the set-up and action of your instrument.

First, I offer you this simple advice, invest in a string winder. A string winder will take all the work out of string changing and as an added bonus it will speed up the process! I insist that string winders are used at all times in our workshop, this ensures that our customers get a lower priced bill when it comes to the cost of paying for workshop time!

In the following notes, I shall assume that you are a right handed person, and that you are going to change the strings and then tune your instrument to standard tuning. The string set that we are using in the example is our most popular standard Eagle-Puretone set as follows, 1st also referred to as the ‘top’ -string is the furthest away from your chin when holding your instrument in the playing position. (If your instrument is part of the mandolin family, you will have a pair of 1st strings) The ‘bottom string’ is the string that is nearest your chin.

The string numbers eg.’9’ or ‘12’ refer to the diameter of the strings and they are measured in imperial measurement, which is used by the USA manufacturers (Not Metric) a ‘9’ for example measures .009” (which is nine thousandth’s of an inch in diameter)

Also take note before changing your strings what gauge of string set is already on your instrument, if your instrument is correctly set-up, the nut will have been cut to suit the gauge of strings that are already on your instrument. Changing up to heavier strings, without having your top nut cut to suit, can cause the thicker strings to bind in the nut. Slight binding can be cured by rubbing a little graphite into the slot (an HB graphite pencil or softer is fine)

Remove your Old strings

Please Note: Your instrument is ‘SET UP’ under tension, so it is a good idea when string changing, not to take all your strings off at the same time. Change one at a time. Slacken off your 1st string and unwind it from the capstan/pillar on your tuning peg, then remove the string from the tailpiece or bridge saddle.

Attach the new string to the tailpiece or bridge saddle, note from the remaining old strings that are still on your instrument, how the strings fit to your tailpiece or bridge. For example: Tailpieces on banjos come in many designs and on some tailpieces the string lays across the top/front of the tailpiece.

Hold some tension on the string to keep it attached to the tailpiece/bridge, as you lay it along your fingerboard and feed it through the hole in the pillar on your tuning peg, pull the string through the pillar with your left hand until there is no ‘slack’ on the string. Keep tension on the string with your left hand. Some of this excess that is now pulled through your pillar will be ‘cut off’ when you have tuned the string to its correct pitch.

At this stage you need to give yourself some ‘slack’ on the string, this ‘slack’ will allow you to put at last three turns around the pillar/capstan on your tuning peg. To do this, keep hold of the string with your left hand pull tension on the string. Then place your right hand index, middle and ring fingers behind the string near the pillar with the back of your fingers touching the instrument and ‘clamp’ the string against your fingers with your right hand thumb. Still holding tension on the string with your left hand, transfer your grip to hold the tension of the string now with your right hand.

Turn your right hand approximately ninety degrees with your index finger remaining in contact with your instrument, this action will pull some ‘slack’ back through the pillar. At this point ‘kink’ the string to ‘dog-leg’ the string as it enters and leaves the hole in the pillar, now in the same motion wind the string around the pillar to take up some of the ‘slack’ that you are holding in your right hand. Note the direction that the string winds around the pillar. It will be wound in the same direction as the old SECOND string that is still attached to your instrument. (Anti clockwise, assuming that the old string was fitted correctly!)

Tuning the 1st String

Carrying on from iii. above and still holding tension on the string with your right hand to keep it attached to the tailpiece, move you left hand to the tuning peg button and start to wind tension onto the string. At this point note that the string is located in its groove in the nut of your instrument, also that you are turning the tuning peg in the correct direction …you can see the pillar rotating as you wind the tuner peg. Carry on turning the tuner button until you take up all the ‘slack’ from your right hand. Then continue to ‘tune’ the 1st string to pitch. A clip-on electronic tuner is very useful for this operation, also to speed up the operation, use of a ‘string winder’ which is very helpful. At this stage you can ‘cut off’ the excess from the string …always tune your string BEFORE cutting off the excess. A small pair of wire cutters is a handy tool to have in your instrument bag, or you may want to invest in a state-of-the-art ‘string speed winder’ that has a pair of clippers on the end of the winder. For neatness, clip the string close to the pillar leaving approximately 6mm (¼”) Angle the remaining part of the string towards the neck face to avoid spiking yourself, but ensure that it does not touch the face of the neck which can scratch the finish when it is being wound.

Fitting and Tuning the 2nd, 3rd 4th etc. Strings

Fit the 2nd string using the same method as the first string and tune it to pitch. Fit the 3rd string in a similar way and tune it to pitch. Note that it winds around the pillar in the correct direction. Then fit the wound 4th string and tune it to pitch. Note also that the fourth string winds around the pillar in the correct direction. Carry on with the remainder of your strings with the same method. NOTE: NEVER cut the excess off a wound string before it is tuned to pitch, doing so can cause the string to unwind and loosen it’s winding along the length of the string.

5-string Banjos Only:-

Fitting and tuning the 5th or Octave String

The fifth or ‘octave’ string is attached to the tailpiece in the same manner as your other four strings, but it will have a guide on the neck of your banjo, it may also have a plastic ‘sleeve’ that fits onto the string to protect the side of your banjo neck. Take note of such things when you remove your old 5th string. Again ensure that you give it enough ‘slack’ when fitting to allow at least three turns around the pillar of the tuner button. The fifth string is tuned to high ‘G’ which is an octave above your 3rd ‘G’ string.

I have written these notes as simply as I could to help the beginner. I have tried my best to write down and explain the way that I change my own instrument strings! String changing is very much a ‘knack’ and I am certain that you will develop your own ‘knack’ of changing your strings based on the above notes.

Steve Kaufmans Soaring Strings Workshop here at Eagle Music

Please Click on this Link to Buy Steve Kaufman Tickets

A brilliant chance to meet and learn from the USAs #1 Flatpicking Guitarist and ace Mandolin Picker in an afternoon of workshops. We are delighted to announce that the 2011 event will take place here at Eagle Music, on Sunday September 25th 2011 commencing at 11.30am.

Steve Kaufman is the worlds only Three Times Winner of the Winfield USA National Flatpicking  Championships!!! Since 1990 Steve has gained the reputation of being the ‘Worlds Guitar Instructor’ Also an awesome mandolin picker, Steve has written numerous instruction books, recorded many DVDs and CDs as well as owning and operating The Palace Theatre in downtown Maryville, USA, The area’s premier acoustic venue.

Steve Kaufman Guitar

Steve Kaufman Mandolin

Limited places …Please telephone 01484 661460 to purchase tickets for the workshop or
click on this link  to buy tickets online

Please click on this link to visit the Steve Kaufman website

Steve Kaufman biography…

Steve Kaufman was born into a musical family in 1957. His father was a jazz piano player and his mother was a classically trained pianist. Music was always around. At four Steve started plinking at the piano and did so for several years. He then moved on to the electric guitar at 10 for a few years and put it away.

Next came the cello in 5th grade for a few years. After this Steve picked up the acoustic guitar again and blazed right through a “Folk Guitar” method book. When finished he thought if this is as hard as it gets it’s not for him. Then his younger brother, Will, started playing the banjo and his instructor told him he needed a rhythm guitar player to help with his timing. So Steve then picked up his guitar again and got into the bluegrass rhythm. One day Will brought home a Flatt and Scruggs LP, which featured Doc Watson on guitar, and Steve was hooked on flatpicking.

Steve practiced hard with his newfound love of music, sometimes up to 8 hours a day. At age 18 he entered the National Flatpicking Championships in Winfield, KS and made the top 10. The following year was a wash. In 1977, Steve took 2nd place to Mark O’Connor and in 1978, at 21 years old, he returned to win the championship. Then after being barred for 5 years he returned on the 6th year to win the 1984 championships again. Winfield bars the winner for 5 years and they can come back on the 6th year but in 1986 they decided to open up the contest to everyone and not bar the past years champs. Steve returned to win his goal. He became the winner and the first and, at this writing, the only Three Time Winner of the National Flatpicking Championships. He is also noted to have 3 consecutive wins in the Nationals because he was barred all the years he did not enter.

Steve continues to work hard in the world of music. He began producing books and videos in 1989 after teaching private lessons for close to 20 years. His catalog of instructional materials is close to 82 items. His listening CDs and Videos number over 18. Steve began touring the world conducting seminars, workshops, clinics and concerts in 1990 and after 5 years he and his wife, Donna, began “Steve Kaufman’s Flatpicking Camp.” Every other year they have added more camps into their agenda and now under the title “Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps” they host a two Flatpicking Kamps, Fingerpicking Kamp, Old Time Banjo, Bluegrass Banjo, Old Time Fiddle, Bluegrass Fiddle, two Bass Kamps,  Songwriting Kamp, Vocals Kamp, Mountain Dulcimer Kamp, Celtic Harp, Resophinic Guitar and Mandolin Kamp as well.

They have grown into the largest Kamps of their kind in the world with students traveling from around the world to Maryville, Tennessee. Steve and Donna have received the Gold Award from a reader’s poll in Acoustic Guitar Magazine for running the “Best Workshops, Seminars and Camps” every year since 2002.

Since 1990 Steve has developed the reputation of being the “World’s Guitar Instructor.”

Steve stays busy being a husband and father, running his Kamps, tour schedule, writing books and recording videos and CDs as well as owning and operating The Palace Theater in downtown Maryville – the area’s premier acoustic venue as well as an espresso bar.

Banjo, uke, mandolin, guitar etc. Eagle Music tuition classes update

Banjo Classes Update: The next Six Week ‘Absolute Beginners’ Banjo lessons course will commence at 5.15pm on Tuesday evening, 23rd August 2011 at Eagle Music Shop.

Please call 01484 661460 for details and to book on this course. Maximum of eight students per course.

As part of our complete service here at Eagle Music Shop, please check out our in-house absolute beginners and intermediate group lessons for Banjo, Ukulele, Mandolin, Guitar etc. We can also arrange one-to-one intermediate to advanced lessons for most of the instruments that we retail. Our dedicated EMS teaching staff have many years of experience teaching, playing music, and performing live on stage. We have four experienced musical instrument teachers within our resident staff. We can also put you in touch with a number of excellent musical instrument teachers that are not part of our Eagle Music staff, but work in close harmony with Eagle Music.

The benefits to EMS students are as follows:

  • A fast track to getting you on the correct route to playing your chosen instrument
  • Specialist advise on instrument care, maintenance and general instrument set-up
  • Specialist advise on the choice of instruments and advanced tuition material
  • Specialist advise on musical styles
  • Special discounts on musical instruments and spares purchased from Eagle Music Shop

Please telephone 01484 661460 or email info@eaglemusicshop.com for more information about Eagle Music lessons and teachers.

Happy Pickin,
Steve Noon
January 2011

Eagle Music School is registered and in association with Music Teachers UK

‘It’s Never Too Late To Learn’

The next Six Week Banjo lessons course will commence at 5.15pm on Tuesday evening, May 3rd at Eagle Music Shop. Please call 01484 661460 for details and to book on this course. Maximum of eight students per course.




Fees: £10.00 per hour, with special discounts to students on musical products and tuition material.

If you want to learn to play 5-string Banjo …we can’t guarantee that you will ever be able to play as great as Jens Kruger! But what we can guarantee is that you will be set out on the correct route to playing 5-string banjo and enjoying your music. With specialist help from our teachers, dedication and practice, every student will rise to his or her own level of musical ability and competence.