Monday, April 20, 2015

Drop-In Acoustic Guitar Class in KIllaloe Wednesday's 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Guitar Classes

"Now taking new students for Private Lessons"

contact for more information

Hum & Strum Drop-in Acoustic Guitar Class 

(Beginners and Skilled Guitarists Welcome)

The emphasis here is on fun. No prior experience necessary & all levels of experience welcome. Learn to play and sing along to some classic acoustic guitar songs in a social setting. Covers basic acoustic guitar techniques, tuning, timing, playing standard chords, singing while playing. You can choose the songs and techniques you want to learn.
Wednesday Nights 

@ Garth's Kitchen 14 Lake Street in Killaloe

8 weeks, from April 22 to June 10, 2015
Cost: $15/session

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Guitar Buying Guide

If you do not currently own a guitar and need to get one for a class or lessons there are a few options available, and always something to fit your budget. A decent guitar is easier to come by than you might think. For starters, let’s look at what kind of guitar you will need.

What type of guitar do I need?

A steel-string acoustic guitar is preferred for learning to play guitar and taking lessons. Nylon strings can be easier on the fingers, but they are designed for a different style of music. However, the wider neck on the nylon string guitars can make playing chords a challenge. Most of my students prefer to focus on popular music, folk, rock, and campfire strummer styles of music.For these styles of music the steel string acoustic is best.

Steel-String Acoustic Guitar

How do I pick the right size guitar for me?

It is important to have a guitar that is the right size for you. Generally, adult size guitars are are called full-size and usually work for most adults and teens. However, sometimes adults with smaller frames find it easier to use a 3/4 size guitar, or a full size folk style guitar. Folk size guitars are a little smaller and softer in sound than the larger-bodied, louder dreadnaught guitars that many rockers use. However, dreadnaughts are easier to find in the beginner price range.

Folk Style Acoustic (Smaller Body, Softer volume)

Dreadnaught Style (Bigger and Louder)

Under 8 years of age:

1/2 Size for kids under 8 years old

 Under 8 years of age, 8 to 12 years, 12 and up:

Size/Age Chart

Where can I get a guitar?

If you live in Barry's Bay, Combermere, Wilno, Killaloe and surrounding areas, I recommend a visit to Guitar Nuts Music Shop in Bancroft. The staff there are very knowledgeable and will know exactly how to fit you with the perfect guitar for starting out.

Guitar Nuts Music Shop

15 Station St.
(Across from the Royal Canadian Legion)
Bancroft, ON
Canada K0L 1C0

Phone: 613-332-6444

Avoid buying from department stores. Department stores do not carry instruments of consistent quality and usability. You may think you are saving money by shopping at Walmart, but in truth you are probably going to come home from Sears with an instrument that is unplayable. It may look like a guitar and sound like a guitar, but you won’t get very far with learning on it. What is the point if not learning how to play?

How much should I spend?

Expect to spend between $150 and $200 for a good starter guitar. Entry level guitars in this price range offer the best compromise between affordability and quality. Anything cheaper might be a challenge to learn on, and anything more expensive might be a waste of money at this stage of the game.

The down side to buying and expensive guitar is that you will be stuck with it if you decide playing guitar is not for you. Hopefully it will be so much fun that you will stay with it for years to come. In this case, the up side of buying an expensive guitar is not having to buy another one when you are ready to move on to something better, but you are not going to know until you have been playing for a while.

Cheaper guitars do not last long and can be harder to play. This can be frustrating for new guitarists, because the strings are a little tough on the hands at first, the neck is usually poorly crafted, and the notes will not sound right. 

In any case, store staff at Guitar Nuts in Bancroft are great with helping you balance your budget with your beginner guitar needs.

Do I need a guitar case?

Yes, you will need a case as well. I recommend a gig bag. The bag is lighter to carry and will strap onto your back. The hard cases are like suitcases and can be a pain to lug around. However they offer better protection of your instrument than gig bags do.

If I can’t afford a guitar, what else can I do?

Ask around. One of your friend’s might have a guitar that they are not using. You could borrow it for a time and if it turns out that you absolutely love playing guitar, then you can start looking more seriously at buying one or buying this one from your friend. Feel free to contact me to ask if the old guitar your friend has will be good to learn on. You can reach me at

I am left-handed, does that matter?

If you are left handed, there are left-handed guitars available, or else store staff might be willing to have to string up a guitar left-hand for you. The other option is to learn to play right-handed as many lefty’s do. Many of my left-handed students have chosen to play right-handed without any difficulty at all.

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about buying a guitar

Good luck, happy strumming, and looking forward to seeing you in lessons.

Robbie Wychwood

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Now serving Killaloe, Wilno, Barry's Bay, Combermere and surrounding areas

Toronto-based guitar teacher, singer, songwriter Robbie Sea Wychwood has recently relocated to Killaloe. He is taking new students for the 2014-2015 season.

Robbie has a background in a variety of arts, including painting, drawing, writing, storytelling, performing and music. He applies a fun, versatile approach to teaching kids to play music on the guitar. Kids will explore guitar through a range of experiences including drawing and painting, acting and storytelling, even costume design.

Robbie can come to you, or receive students in locations not far from your neighbourhood.

Usually we meet once a week for 45 mins. Lessons are always prepared in advance, and take the student's tastes, interests and affinities into consideration. We aim to learn a variety of  pieces of music and cover basic song structure, singing and playing guitar at the same time, performing for an audience, as well as basic music theory and sight reading musical notation.  Some students wish to explore their own creativity with guitar and may wish to devote some time to writing their own songs.

Lessons are 25$ session and a limited barter arrangement is available.

Contact robbie at or 416-951-5683 for an initial chat and get on the list of contacts for new students in the fall of 2014.  Some time slots during the summer are open as well, if you wish to dive right in.

Be well!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You want to learn to play guitar, but want to know if you should buy an electric guitar or an acoustic...

The short answer is “Yes!”
The long answer is, “it depends, and still, Yes!”

Learning to play guitar can be exciting, but knowing how to get there can be confusing. I have had a number of new guitar enthusiasts ask me over the years if they should buy an electric or an acoustic to learn how to play. The short answer I give is, “if you are unsure about what type of music you would like to play, or what kind of guitar styles you would like to try, and simply wish to try some basic guitar techniques, depending on your age, I would start with a steel-string acoustic guitar. The basics that you will learn on an acoustic guitar will carry over to electric if you decide to go there. However, starting with an electric can pose challenges for those wanting to later learn acoustic.

No worries. If you have the time and want to think more about it before hand, here are some tips and questions that will help you figure out if you are an electric or acoustic beginner?

What draws you to playing guitar? Is it that hair-raising lead guitar riff that gets you every time you hear that song you like? Are you a fan of rock music, guitar gods and blistering guitar solos, or eye-watering blues solos blasting out mood and soul all over the place. Perhaps you like guitarists Eric Clapton, BB King, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Eddie Van Halen. If this is the case, there might be no harm in jumping on an electric guitar to start with. No?  Keep reading!

Perhaps you and some friends want to start a punk or rock band? You feel that you just need a guitar and want to learn as you go at rehearsals with the band? Again, no harm starting with an electric guitar, and kudos to you. It takes guts to jump right in. Not you? Keep reading.

Maybe you are not really sure you know what kind of music you are going to play, or who your favorite bands are. Maybe you would like to write some of your own music, or just play guitar for fun and learn a bunch of your favorite cover songs. If this sounds more like you I recommend an acoustic guitar. Learning on an acoustic first will give you a solid foundation in basic guitar techniques and styles, but there are also many other advantages.

If you choose to learn on an acoustic guitar, the guitar and a case is all you will need. It is portable and can be played anywhere you choose, and is a very versatile instrument. You can play a number of different styles of music with it. You also do not need any additional expensive or heavy equipment to play it.

An electric guitar is less versatile. You can still learn to play the basics on an electric, but no one will really hear you play without additional money spent on amplification and cables. You also require electricity to play electric guitar, which limits the locations you can practice. You certainly will not be able to perform anything with out this extra equipment.

Portability is important for the beginner. Having many options for locations to practice is important. If you are having to put away all of your gear every time you finish playing, there is a greater chance the gear will be “out of sight, out of mind.” If it is a big ordeal to set up every time you want to practice, you may start to skip practice. Thus, an acoustic guitar is great, because you can pick it up anywhere, just about anytime you wish. The down side however, is that it is louder than an unplugged electric. So, you may have to be aware of neighbors and hours of the day. However, speaking from experience, even an unplugged electric guitar can piss off the odd neighbor or family member in the middle of the night.

Ideally, if you are interested in playing all sorts of music and guitar styles, both an electric and an acoustic are essential. Again, I would start with the acoustic, and then add an electric later. You can play electric guitar riffs and rhythms on an acoustic. However, there is a word of warning: acoustic strings are harder on the hands. They are thicker and made to create a louder sound without amplification. This also means they are harder to press and hold at first. The up side to sweating through it though, is that you will be able to easily switch back and forth between electric and acoustic after learning on an acoustic.

Learning on an electric first poses some challenges. Because electric strings feel stretchier and are easier to press and hold, beginners who later move to an acoustic guitar find it challenging still. They will still have to build up more strength in the fingers, and tougher callouses on the finger tips. Therefore the switch from electric to acoustic will not be as straight forward.

Can I play leads and solos on an acoustic?  Yes, it is possible to learn to play guitar solos on an acoustic guitar. You won’t have the same versatility if you aim to be a guitar shredder, blistering solos all over the place. However, acoustic guitars can still be used to learn the basics of leads and improvised soloing.

The thing I love most about acoustic guitars is that they are sort of “the symphony of instruments:” -the one instrument that can play many parts of a musical piece at once. An advancing guitarist can learn to play a percussive, a bass line, a vocal melody or lead fills, and rhythm section all at once. This makes for a full sound with just a single guitar and vocalist. Electric guitars can be used to create ambient sound all on their own, but generally, they are designed and intended to be used in concert with other instruments.  This is why a solo performer with just a guitar can carry a whole show on their own.

That being said, I once saw Danny Michel perform his song “Maybe You Can Find It In Your Heart” on an electric guitar after lovingly inviting the band to “take a hike for this one.” He owned the stage. The toe tapping and foot stomping sound was so full and alive with him and his electric guitar alone. However, he was also using a hollow-body electric guitar. Is that an electric or an acoustic?

Hollow body electric guitars are electric guitars that are constructed to be hollow and have a deeper, fuller rhythm sound, as well as providing a fully versatile electric guitar for leads. They are a good hybrid for those wanting an electric that plays like both and electric and an acoustic. Because they are hollow, they are a little louder than your average electric when unplugged. However, you will still need amps and cables and electricity to get the most out of having one.

Is that they same as an electric-acoustic? Wow, is this stuff confusing or what? These days you can get a decent acoustic guitar that can be plugged in and amplified. Does this mean I can play electric on it? The short answer is, “no!” Electric-acoustic’s are acoustic guitars that can be amplified, but you will not be able to pull off dynamite Yngwie Malmsteen-style lead riffs on an electric-acoustic, even though he can. You also won’t be able to take your electric-acoustic as your only instrument for punk band practice. An electric-acoustic is therefor not a solution to having both an electric and an acoustic.

Finally, there is nothing like trying things out to help you sort out this electric verses acoustic stuff. In my classes, I mostly teach with acoustic guitars. However, I always recommend to new guitarists to get down to the local music instrument store and try things out. Some decisions are made by feel. I recommend Long & McQuade in Toronto, and other major Canadian cities.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes, or if you have other questions about guitar.


Monday, September 24, 2012

So you want to learn to play guitar

...but you heard that learning guitar is hard to do? You are not sure if it is for you? You would like to give it a try, but you are not sure what you are up against?

We have all been there.

My relationship with guitar began with listening to great music when I was a kid. My mom had an awesome 8-track and record collection and listened to some great radio stations. She also bought me some of the greatest albums in rock history as a usual birthday gift, when she could afford to do so.

I also saw posters and magazines of my favorite stars in the local convenience store. The store owner, Tony, used to let us spend hours flipping through the mags without buying them. The guitarists always looked the coolest to me.

At the time, I didn’t really know anything at all about how easy it would be to learn to play guitar, but I just knew it was something I wanted to do.

My family always watched live shows of musicians on television, everything from Hee-haw, the Lawrence Welk Show, rock concert-radio simulcasts, all the way to Donnie and Marie, or Dolly and Kenny’s Christmas.  One day, after seeing a guest appearances by Leif Garret, Paul Williams, Elton John and the rock band, Kiss, I felt so inspired. I sat down and wrote my first song.

Please don’t laugh, it was called “machine gun heart.”  I didn’t own a guitar. So, I made one out of paper and pretended I had one. I also made a paper costume, complete with a paper top hat, as if all the stars had the best clothes and wore cool hats.

I got dressed up, picked up my paper axe, and marched out to the living room to perform my sure-fire, number-one, hit song for my mom.

I was enthusiastic to say the least. And before long, some how, some magic way an acoustic guitar came into my life. I was ten years old.

I spent hours with it. I picked at it and marveled at the shininess and beauty of the wood grain. For weeks it was the only thing in my whole wide world.

Eventually, reality set in. Underneath all the hype and expectation I held for that guitar and me, I was sad. I was sad, because I didn’t know a thing about playing guitar. I had no learning materials. No music books. No teacher. I had no idea what to do with it. I was totally on my own.

It would be nearly four years before I actually started to make something sound like music on my little acoustic guitar, but there were some spots along the way the I should mention.

I had a baby sitter who played guitar. She was an elementary school teacher, and a folk singer who enjoyed singing children’s songs. She put my guitar in tune for me, but her newborn baby kept her attention for the most part. We were never able to get those lessons we wanted to try doing together.

A couple of years later some friends and I decided we wanted to try to enter a talent show, and so we approached our friend’s dad, who could play guitar. He also happened to be the talent show organizer. “Mr, White, can you teach us a song?” We were delighted when he enthusiastically agreed.

I don’t think he knew the task he was up for when he agreed to be our guitar teacher. He thought we could already play chords, and he expected to just spend more than a few minutes teaching us a song for the show. I will never forget the look in his eyes when we all sat down to try the first chord. It was like someone pulled the plug on his pin-ball machine just as he was about to break high score.

Even though we didn’t ever learn that song, or play in the talent show, I owe a credit to Mr. White for teaching me my first guitar chord, D.

It gave me the frightening foundation for what I was up against. After all the pain and agony of trying to get a D-chord to feel comfortable and sound musical, I gave up. I knew I was done for. There was no way I was ever going to pull it off. From here on in I was going to take up the bass. “At least bass players only have to hold down one string at a time,” was my way of thinking.

So when Motley Crue was just about the biggest band in my world, they’re music pumped me up so much I decided it was high time to start a band of my own.  I was going to be the bass player. All I needed were a couple other guys and a way we would go.

The trouble then was, I didn’t own a bass guitar. I had no money. I couldn’t buy myself one. So, for the time being, I sat down with my old acoustic and pretended it was a bass. I made up my own melodies using the lowest strings on the guitar and played along to my favorite songs. After a while I realized that I was pretty good at sounding out the tunes.

My life changed forever the day I accidentally stumbled onto the power chord. There was no stopping me. No holding me back. In a manner of hours, I figured out dozens of simple rock guitar anthems. Within a year I was cutting my way through Clapton and Hendrix guitar lick’s, and parts of Van Halen solos.

Learning guitar in the beginning was a painful process for me, but it doesn’t have to be hard for others to learn to play. With the right resources, some dedication, a dash of enthusiasm and a good guitar teacher, beginners can learn how to enjoy playing guitar right from the very start.

A good teacher can step a beginner through the initial challenges of holding and fingering the guitar, while offering instruction on a musical piece that will easily sound “dynamite,” and feel incredibly rewarding to the student.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that most beginners do not set out with the intention to be a guitar god. Some do, and if that is where you would like to be, it is totally doable. However, most of us just want to have some fun and play some songs.

I’d wager that most beginners find it hard to learn to play, and that even seasoned guitarists find it difficult to learn to sing and play guitar at the same time. It can feel like rubbing your tummy and your head at the same time.

I have developed a system of teaching beginners to learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time from the first lesson, and people love it. It is fast, easy and effective.

I have taught nearly a thousand classes and lessons with this method, and every time, within hours of a person sitting down to play for the very first time ever, they can sing and play sections of popular Beatles or Bob Dylan songs.

Anyone can learn to play guitar. You do not have to be born with talent.

It is true that playing guitar is not for everyone, just like playing tennis or shooting pool is not for everyone, but I encourage anyone with even a partial interest in playing music of any kind, to give it a try. Playing music is an incredibly powerful experience. It is healing and empowering, and it is a gift that can be shared with others as well.

~Robbie Sea Wychwood