This offer has been popular for the last few years, so I'm offering it again this year!
After a run of recent gigs, mainly centring around the King's Coronation events and the London Marathon, I can take a break to concentrate on teaching. Then finish the month of May at Billy's in Manor Park, Lewisham (Sunday 28th pm) and Bank Holiday Monday at Pistachios in Manor Park Gardens, Hither Green, and then start June with another Daylight Inn event in Petts Wood on the 1st June.
|Sunny Day with GCQ at Pistachio's!|
|Another sunny day (with GCQ and Jimmy Beckley) at Petts Wood Street Party!|
Spring / Summer public gigs. Catch me somewhere!
6th - 8-11pm: Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. (Green Chain Qt)
23rd - 9am-12noon: London Marathon, Greenwich (Meantime Road Runners)
4th - 8-11pm: Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. (Green Chain Qt)
6th - pm: Street Party, Beckenham (Green Chain Qt + guests)
7th - pm: Street Party, Bickley (Green Chain Qt + guests)
8th - 2.30-7.30pm: Golder's Hill Park Bandstand, Hampstead Heath (GCQ)
28th - 2pm Jazz In The Park - Billy's, Manor Park, Hither Green SE13 5QZ
29th - 2pm Pistachios In The Park, Hither Green (GCQ)
1st - 8-11pm: Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. (Green Chain Qt)
14th - 3pm: Fellowship Arms event, Bellingham, Catford (Duo with Jimmy Beckley)
24th - pm: TBC Manor Park Festival (Green Chain Qt)
6th - 8-11pm: Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. (Green Chain Qt + guests)
3rd - 8-11pm: Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. (Green Chain Qt)
13th - 3-5pm: Parliament Hill Fields Bandstand, Hampstead Heath (GCQ)
7th - 8-11pm: Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. (Green Chain Qt)
Well er.. not quite! The Registry Of Guitar Tutors (RGT) instruction and exam system has been part of the London Music College Exams group for a few years now. But things evolve and it is now fully part of the London College Of Music (LCM) and is now rebranded as ‘RGT@LCM’.
Thanks to all my students who I've had the pleasure of teaching this year - online and in-person.
Thanks also to the venues and musicians that I worked with from spring to winter, inside, outside and all points in between!
Wishing you all the best for Christmas and New Year and, as last year, and the year before, hoping it's better one for all of us than 2022!
Gigs continue with the Green Chain Quartet. Our monthly residency at The Daylight Inn in Petts Wood, Bromley is going well and has raised over £1,000 for charities since we started earlier this year.
|The GCQ captured in glorious technicolor by Neil Stradwick|
8pm Thursday 6th October @ The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. Guest vocalist Amanda Forbes. And special intermission guests: Felix's School Of Rock Choir.
8pm Thursday 3rd November @ The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. Special guest TBC.
For more information see the official Green Chain Quartet website
The GCQ are also playing the annual Hither Green Christmas FUSS Fair on Saturday afternoon of December 3rd. And I understand another Christmas outdoor special at Pistachio's In The Park, Manor Park Gardens, Lee, Lewisham date TBC.
My other dates this month include an early afternoon duo performance at The Fellowship Arms, Bellingham, with sax legend Jimmy Beckley: 12 til 2pm on 21st September.
At the moment my regular gig is with the Green Chain Quartet, featuring old friends and London music legends John Gittos on Hammond, Mel Wright on drums and Dave Morris on saxophones.Musically it's a sort of soul-jazz/jazz-blues of the kind of melting pot that produced Jimmy Smith, Richard 'Groove' Holmes, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Billy Hart and Grady Tate.
8pm Thursday 4th August @ The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. Guest vocalist Amanda Forbes.
3pm Sunday 7th August @ Hampstead Heath: Parliament Hill Bandstand, Parliament Hill Fields (near Tennis Courts) Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QR
8pm Thursday 1st September @ The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. Special guest TBC.
For more information see the official Green Chain Quartet website
Thanks to everyone who came along to hear the Jazz and Blues at Pistachio's In The Park at Manor House Gardens in Hither Green on Sunday. And special thanks to vocalist Chess Payne standing in at short notice for The Prof who was off with Covid.
I'm told there are more of these events to come at this lovely park setting so watch this space!
Full list of upcoming gigs with the GCQ at the GCQ website!
|The Green Chain Quartet|
Each month the event raises money for a charitable cause. This one was Bromley Food Band and a decent amount of money was raised for them.
Next one up at The Daylight is on Thursday 7th April. Doors open 8pm, music from 8.30pm. The charitable support for this one will be the people in Ukraine.
|At 'The Daylight' (with extra lighting 🙄 )|
Well the gigs are starting to come back... Here's a selection of my events for 2022 with the fabulous Green Chain Quartet, including a new monthly residency with guests at The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood, Bromley. Looking forward to them!
3rd March - The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood
7th April - The Daylight Inn, Petts wood
22nd April - Private Function Blackheath
5th May - The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood
4th June - Beckenham Street Party
25th June - Clandon Wood Jazz Evening, Surrey
7th August - The Bandstand, Hampstead Heath
|In the pink with the Green Chain Quartet|
This offer has been popular for the last few years, so I'm offering it again this year, although slightly different due to the Covid-19 Omicron restrictions in that my lessons are currently only online, through Skype, Zoom, Webex or Facetime. Although if anything like 2021 this will revert to face to face lessons as the pandemic risk reduces.
Thanks to everyone who came along to the Hither Green Christmas FUSS Fair!
The fab Green Chain Quartet are ending the musical year with a seasonal Christmas bash at Pistachio's In The Park in Manor House Gardens on Sunday lunchtime (12.00-1.00pm) 19th December and.. you're invited!
We've got all your favourite Xmas tunes, socially distanced (we're playing outside) to accompany your favourite seasonal coffee and pastries. There'll be festive singing too, we hope you're in good voice !
|All the performers at Hither Green Christmas FUSS Fair (Thanks to Jilly Pepper for this photo)|
So what's happening? Well, the Green Chain Quartet and various guests continue to perform monthly at Brockley Brewery's - Hither Green Tap Room on Fridays for jazzy blues nights. Next date: Friday 19th November 8-10pm.
It's a nice hipster vibe: Great beers, cool jazz and blues, deck chairs, lanterns, nice tacos, fire pits to keep you warm and a superb ambience.
Check the taco menu: https://www.tacocollective.co.uk/
Check the beer menu: https://www.brockleybrewery.co.uk/hither-green-taproom
Check the band: Green Chain Quartet website for full details.
Well, things may be turning a corner at long last. I've been doing a number of open air gigs to help fill up the diary.. things are definitely looking brighter!
I'm out with the fabulous Green Chain Quartet and various guests at Brockley Brewery - Hither Green Tap Room for a monthly series of Saturday jazzy blues nights.
|The Green Chain Quartet|
- Saturday June12th
- Saturday July 10th
Get along there for a socially distanced brew, or a few, with live music and tacos with Taco Collective too!
Book a table at:
Check the taco menu:
See the Green Chain Quartet website for full details.
- Sunday 18th July afternoon 3-5pm I'm with 'The Great Cross Country Band' at the Greenwich Park Bandstand. We're playing both types of music.. Country, and Western..
- Sunday 30th August 3-5pm (Greenwich Park bandstand) I'll be with jazz and soulsters 'Meantime'.
- Sunday 3rd October: the legendary Maritime Road Runners soul band will be at 'Water Station 6' in Greenwich (Bottom of Maze Hill) for the return of the London Marathon! Early start, mind you... 9.30am - 12.00noon!
Like many musicians who teach I moved my students to online lessons when the Pandemic lockdown began 12 months ago, back in March 2020... While this way of teaching instruments has become the norm, trying to teach music in real time with all the glitches, sound and latency issues on Zoom/Skype/Facetime/Webex etc., etc.. is never going to replace face to face lessons!
All that aside, things are improving on the digital platform front and there are a lot of measures you can take to make sure that what you use functions to the best of its ability.
If you use Zoom check this out this guide to audio settings:
Or this for Skype:
Sometimes though, whatever you try, it's just down the internet speed in your street, the sheer number of current users or next door using their microwave oven... 😰
Here's to hoping we can all return to something more like normal life soon!
Thanks to all my students who I've had the pleasure of teaching this year - mostly online.
Thanks to the venues and musicians that I worked with before lock down early in the year. Hope to see you all up and running again before too long.
Wishing you all the best for Christmas and New Year and, for all our sakes, hoping its a much better one than 2020!
From my bubble to yours… wishing you a very Merry Christmas
This is an update of a blog post that I originally put up in 2014.
The following post runs the rule over different types of guitar practice amplifier, and looks at some of the many features useful in your practice routine.
At the bottom of this blog entry there is a list of amps by type, with links to the manufacturers' websites. Just Google the name of the amp to get many independent reviews on these products.
So.... Practice amps.. they're intended to help us practice aren't they? Let's face it, there is a huge amount of music gear for us guitarists to acquire, some of it meeting our needs, some of it falling well short, some of it keeping its treasures buried deep in the technical manual that came with it, never to be discovered. So, it's worth pausing a moment and considering what do we actually need? Does the stuff that we think (or we are told) we need, actually serve its purpose? And very importantly, how easy is it to use?
|Roland produce an ever popular range of small amps|
'What amp should I buy?' Is a question I get asked a lot from electric guitar students. If you're a beginning guitarist or an experienced player looking at making the most of your practice time there are some great features that some modern amps have built in that are helpful to your practice routine.
Some of these have extra 'fun' features, like DSP effects (Digital Signal Processing - i.e. chorus, flanging, phasers, delay etc) that are more likely to help you keep your fingers on the frets, but can also be distracting rather than being useful in your practice sessions... and you end up spending more time messing around to get specific sounds than practicing that new set of chords or scales..
Some of the advertising, even in reviews, dwell on the quality of the multitude of amp types, overdrive tones, the speaker simulators, DSP effects, the analogue quality of many digitally produced sounds (modelling amps) and the 'this famous person plays this same brand' factors.
While some of these features are amusing it's important to consider what existed before the practice amp? Well let's see; records, a metronome, your guitar and your ears..! Ok, I'm being facetious but those basic things will still cover 90% of what you need to practice on your instrument, and not one of them includes the word amplifier!
There are a pretty wide range of practice amps available with a variety of prices and functions. So generally what kind of things would be useful in a practice amplifier:
- small size/portability
- headphone socket for quiet practice
- a decent clean tone
- a decent overdrive sound
- straightforward EQ controls
- a good quality authentic sounding reverb
- connections - inputs and outputs: main in, headphone socket, auxiliary input etc.
- good speaker quality at low/modest volume
Practice aids (these are the really useful features so long as they are easily accessible on the amp)
- Phrase looper: loopers allow you to play a phrase (e.g a riff or chords) and practice scales, arpeggios, improvisation etc., over it. Basically it is form of short, direct recording. The looper should have an auto-quantise feature so any slight timing slips that you make are automatically corrected on playback.
- Built in tuner: a very common feature these days, and essential to be at concert pitch (i.e. A = 440hz) when playing along to backing tracks, recordings etc. Still some practice amps do not have built in tuners.
- Metronome and/or drum machine: A simple click to keep you in time, to help perfect your speed and phrasing, is really useful when you are learning. Drum track loops also help you to learn to sync with the drum parts in a variety of styles.
- Auxiliary input: 1/8" socket for play along device (phone, mp3 player, tablet etc). Note a number of amplifiers are now adding the option to connect by bluetooth instead of/as well as a 1/8" socket.
- Speed variation: ability to slow down tracks while keeping the music at the original pitch. These are great practice tools for working out and playing along with original song recordings. Unusual in practice amps, but are often available separately as a smartphone app but still need to be played through something so it can be heard, usually the practice amp's auxiliary input, and in some cases through Bluetooth.
- Centre cancel: cancels the sound of the main instrument or voice being played on any recording, you can then use your instrument/voice in its place. These are sometimes available as linked smartphone or tablet apps, and are very useful to practice getting your guitar parts correct.
- Headphone out socket: so you can practice quietly, without disturbing other folks in your house. Most of us hate to be overheard practising anyway, makes us self conscious and takes away some of the magic of when we finally perform it to the same listeners! In any case listening to someone practise their scales can be a form of torture...
Note: All of the above things are only really useful if you know how to access and use them. But many are also available in other forms, separate from the amp, and can be bought as separate units, e.g. loopers, centre cancel, drum loops, slow downers, metronome etc., some of these features are available as apps on your smart phone or tablet.. (watch our for a separate blog article on smart phone apps coming up on this very subject).
OK so you may be considering using a bigger practice amp that can also cover dual duty for band rehearsals or small gigs:
Desirable but not essential: (these features are sometimes available on practice amps)
- Powered by mains and batteries - batteries are great for playing outside, on the street, in a field etc..
- Recording output direct to a computer or tablet or smart phone, or memory card.
- Foot-switchable channels - great if your amp is loud enough to compete with a live drummer..
- Loud enough for rehearsal/small gigs as well as practice as above. See my note below on how to make your practice amp louder..
- Line out for recording, that also doubles as line out for slaving another (bigger) amp, or feeding a line direct to a PA mixing board, could be useful if your amp is good enough/loud enough for small gigs.
- Mic / line input for sing-along or another instrument, think restaurant's and coffee bars.
- Full range speaker and flat band power stage, so acts as a reasonable sounding MP3 player as well as a guitar amp, a jack of all trades.. there are some out there.
** Note - to make your practice amp louder, do the following:
- Put it up on a chair. Or tilt it upwards slightly... OK it's not really louder but everyone can hear it better!
- Add a clean boost pedal, such as a Boss Graphic EQ, TC Spark Booster, Mooer Audio Pure Boost or similar, in front of the amp, and adjust the level as required.
Less useful: Most practice amps have these and the advertising spiel and non-independent reviews often make much of them... to be honest they are the icing on the cake, it's pretty rare that only a certain, very specific, type of sound will do, especially when you are practicing.
- A plethora of amp types that sound roughly the same but with varying amounts of cleanness or drive/distortion
- A wide selection of modulation affects: flanger/phaser/chorus/delay/touch wah etc (one effect of decent quality is enough!)
So, having identified what we might need lets have a look at some of the gear out there:
Well established small combo amps with varying amounts of practice aids/features:
Hifi - doubles as a mini PA, or sound system:
- Line 6 Amplifi - 75w or very gig usable 150w. Great if using backing tracks.
- TC Helicon VoiceSolo - really a personal monitor, but also small PA.
- Roland AC series - acoustic amps, but plug anything into them really.
- Roland Street EX - can plug lots of things into this, battery and mains powered.
- Roland Mobile - portable, plug in anything, runs on AC or batteries, centre cancel.
Small, house friendly, desktop size stuff.....
- Yamaha THR 10 (&5) - nice looking, good range of sounds.
- Roland JS-10 - lots of practice features, read the manual to get the best out of it.
- Roland Cube Lite - nice looking practice amp, good features, includes iOS dock.
Direct from your guitar to headphones, or computer, or through your phone!
(i.e. tiny! No speakers, just a headphone socket, great for quiet practice and very portable)
- Tascam GB-10 - mini practicing device. Range of features.
- iRig - plugs directly from guitar to your phone to headphones/mini speaker.
- Vox Amplug - plug from guitar to headphones or mini speaker.
- Apogee Jam - interface to use with your smart phone/computer.
- Boss BR80 - mini recording studio, with practice features.
The 13 Best Mini Portable Guitar Amps
Finally.... a guitarists' health and wallet warning: GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is often used as a substitute for practicing, i.e. buying equipment in the hope it will make up for a shortfall in playing technique, or worse in the vague hope that getting new stuff will improve you as a player!
As a result many of the gig listings on my blog posts below this one will have changed, and all my lessons are currently online.
Event - Prince of Greenwich, Royal Hill, Greenwich
- Sunday February 23rd evening
Charity Event - for Maudsley Hospital
- Saturday 29 February evening
Location: The Ivy House, Stuart Road, Nunhead, London SE15
|GCQ at ParksFest 2019|
Charity Run/Walk Event - for Moorfields Eye Hospital
- Sunday March 8th from 12.30pm
Location: County Hall (The London Eye)
L’Arte Della Pizza
- Saturday March 21st from 7pm.
Location: Charlton House in Charlton, Hornfair Rd, Charlton London SE7 8RE
Book, it gets busy! Phone: 07956 808373
Info/menu etc: https://www.instagram.com/artedellapizzauk/
- Saturday February 15th
- Saturday March 21st
Remember to book, it gets busy! Phone: 07956 808373
Info/menu etc: https://www.instagram.com/artedellapizzauk/
Address: L’Arte Della Pizza, Charlton House, Charlton Rd, London SE7 8RE (entrance on Hornfair Rd)