Newsletter January 2013  


Hi everyone

Welcome to January’s Newsletter.


A belated Happy New Year to one and all.


The Christmas Break seems a distant memory now – I swear, time speeds up over the holidays – not sure if Einstein ever addressed this phenomenon in his Theory of Relativity. I can’t believe that we’ve already held a Blues course this year.

We start the year as we ended the last – being deluged by all sorts of inclement weather making the dark mornings and evenings even worse than they already are. Anyway, we’ve got a few things to possibly brighten your weekends! Dreadful introduction – hope you’re still with us – please read on!

There are a number of things to cover on new and suggested courses, including the next instalment of the Graphical Fretboard Mastery Lesson from Malcolm, and so I’ll crack on.




We had 109 responses. Names were put into a hat and the winner of a free 2013 playing course is Andrew Leggetter of Cambridge – congratulations to Andrew.

Thanks to everyone who took part – we’ll do something similar again at the end of this year. Based on the feedback we’re now much nearer to deciding what we’re likely to focus on in the Themed Weekend.

On the subject of our Weekends……….






8 February – Cumbria, Improvers with Gary Dunn

1 March - The Cotswolds, Strugglers with Lin Flanagan

8 March – Cumbria, Blues to Jazz (new course – see below) with Rod Sinclair

There are a few limited places left on these – let me know if you’re interested.



The Blues to Jazz is another new course for this year – it’s for those players who like to noodle in blues and rock but who have an inkling to try something more challenging.

The course is designed to take such players into the realms of jazz through a focus of modal playing over slow changing chord sequences. Some theory is involved but there’s also lots of practical improvisation time – this is the best known route for a move into jazz for the uninitiated (used by John Scofield and Robben Ford many moons ago!).

It is at times called Jazz/Blues, Jazz/Rock or Jazz/Funk, a clumsy description for what is simply the combining of the emotional stuff of Blues/Rock or Funk with the sophistication of Jazz. The creative us of modes will be explored through the playing of modal tunes such as Canteloupe Island (Herbie Hancock) and Sissy Strut (The Meters).


THEMED WEEKEND (8 Nov, Cotswolds)

This course builds on Improvers and looks at the songs and techniques of a few artists. It looks like the consensus is: Shadows, Eagles, Clapton (but this might change based on the tutor’s feedback– I’ll update everyone via the website next week).

We’ll likely take a few songs from each and see how they were constructed, how they could be arranged differently and how they can be performed; we’ll most likely use them as the basis for the Saturday night projects and so practising them ahead of time would be useful.


ACOUSTIC FOLK (27 Sep, Cotswolds)

This is a brand new course being introduced this year and run by Lin Flanagan (of Strugglers I and II and Introduction to Jazz fame). Leave the electric at home for this one!

Many of you seem to want to delve into fingerpicking and even fingerstyle whilst not forgetting flatpicking.  It will also cover techniques such as hybridpicking,

strumming and rhythm patterns, use of a capo in different keys, drones and alternating bass.


It’ll use many folk styles from the 60s and 70s such as Bob Dylan, Donovan, Ralph McTell, The Beatles etc. If you want to find out more then let us know.



Recently, at the Improvers Weekend just gone, I was discussing with Rod, our Blues tutor, about possibly changing the nature of the Blues II course – I’m throwing this idea out there to see what sort of take-up it will get before committing to it. A number of you mentioned to me last year that you would love to have the opportunity to go on some sort of “professional performance” course.

It would also serve as an end-of-year bash!

Here’s the suggestion.

A list of songs would be handed out a few months in advance to those students attending (covering a number of styles – you choose what you’re interested in); you would need to learn the songs before coming along - the Friday and Saturday would be dedicated to teaching how to perform these tunes and set up the gear. On the Saturday evening the students would perform as part of a professional band (Rod and some fellow pros) with videos taken of the performances. There are some logistical things to work out here but where there’s a will then there’s a way!

We’ll likely limit the number of performances to two per student – the band would get no warm-up – they should be able to handle it easily from a session musician viewpoint – you would be leading the band in every way possible!

The Sunday would be spent on analysing the performances, providing feedback on areas for improvement and maybe getting a chance for a rerun in a more relaxed and less professional setting. All students would learn from others’ performances and feedback.

Since it’s a professional performance then we might invite non-attending Weekenders, guests of the venue and maybe even some other groups in to watch the performances.

Watch this space for updates – if you’re interested in such a course then it would be really helpful if you could let me know if it’s a strong possibility for you.

Note – the price may have to be a little more for this course given its nature.



We’ve had some feedback asking why there isn’t a Blues course in Farcnombe early in the year – last year we focused on getting Farncombe off the ground as our southern venue and the start of this year if heavily focused on doing the same with the Westmorland Hotel as our northern base, still with Beckfoot as our Maintenance Course. I’ve checked with Farncombe and there’s potential to fit in a Blues course on 12 April – if you’re interested then please let me know and I’ll see what I can organise – we may make it a combination of Blues II and Blues to Jazz – again, we’d value your feedback but I’ll need it by Monday 4 Feb to have any chance of booking something.




FACEBOOK - Remember that if you’ve been on one of our courses then you’re eligible to join the Guitar Weekends Members-only Group. Let me know if you want to join – it’s great for sharing information on gear, what’s on, great players/groups to listen to, etc. and keeping up to date with any last-minute cancellations.


GUITAR SHOWS – as ever, we’ll be attending a number of guitar shows this year. Top of the list is a three day show in Edinburgh this year (don’t miss it) – more details next month. Please pop along for a chat and maybe a jam.


FOR SALE – Unique Spanish Classical Guitar

A friend has asked me to see if anyone is interested in his Spanish classical guitar (model Marizapalos) – I’ve played it and it’s outstanding (the guitar – not my playing!); I can’t believe that he’s trading up for another one. It’s only available in Spain from a famous luthier called Angel Benito ( It’s a 2011 build with cedar solid top, back and sides of Indian rosewood, neck is Honduras cedar, fingerboard is Kenyan ebony. Price is £1500 o.v.n.o. (over £2000 new).

Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll put in touch.


OPEN DAY – Westmorland Hotel.

As with Farncombe last year, we will be hosting an Open Day at the Westmorland Hotel later this year (probably September, before the weather turns inclement again! – details to follow). This is an ideal opportunity for those of you who haven’t yet dipped their musical toe into one of our Weekends – we’ll be around for a chat about our courses and how we run them as well as an assessment of your playing technique with one of our tutors.

Also, note that there’s always an open invitation wherever or whenever we hold a course – it’s a busy weekend but we’re always available for a chat and you can get a glimpse of how things work – best times are probably on the Saturday before dinner (around 6pm) and after lunch on the Sunday around 2pm. It’s a good idea to let us know if you’re thinking of coming along so that we make Reception aware.



From now on we’ll have this section dedicated to the tutors so that we can find out what they’re up to and see if they have any recommendations for gigs to attend, equipment to consider,

Maybe even a best question answered section.



Continuing Malcolm’s graphical approach to mastering the fretboard here is part two. We’d appreciate your feedback as to what you think of the approach and whether it has helped in any way (or suggestions for how it can be improved). It can sound complicated but the principles are straight-forward and logical both across the strings and up and down the neck.

Click here for this month’s lesson.


Rock & Gear Blues Country




 2012 REVIEW

Just in case you didn’t know, we now operate out of three venues.

Westmorland Hotel in Cumbria (near Tebay services off the M6 between J38 and J39)

Fantastic reviews following our inaugural course in mid November, Improvers Rock.

Farncombe in the Cotswolds (near Broadway just off the A44)

We did our first course there back in May and have since done another 10 courses at different locations on the vast estate. It’s a superb venue with something for partners as well as players.

Beckfoot House remains our base for the Maintenance courses with its purpose-built workshop. There were two courses in 2012 with two more lined up for April and September this year.



As ever, we really appreciate your ideas/suggestions/recommendations to continually improve our courses – please keep them coming on email ( or via Facebook.



A quick reminder of the Introduction/Referral discount now being offered for bringing along someone who hasn’t been on a Guitar Weekend before - £40 off your next course (see the website for details).

If any of you are members of Guitar Clubs and are willing to put some Guitar Weekends leaflets out during your get-togethers then please let me know and I’ll send some through to you.



I hope this year picks up for everyone – stay fit and healthy and keep practising that gi-tar (just been watching a documentary on Glen Campbell !).



The Guitar Weekends Team

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Guitar Weekends, Scotland Cottage, Scotland, Southwick. Wiltshire, BA14 9RL