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Choosing Guitar Strings

Choosing the right set of strings to put on your guitar will vary depending on what kind of guitar you have. The style of music that you’re playing will also have an impact. This blog will guide you through the choices you have and our recommendations for the different types of guitar.

 

Classical & Spanish Guitar:

This type of guitar always uses nylon strings. Never put metal strings on a classical guitar as the extra tension will break the instrument. The lack of truss rod means the neck will bend and distort.

We Recommend: D’Addario Pro Arte Classical Strings (Available In Two Tensions).

 

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Our recommended classical string.

Acoustic & Electro-Acoustic Guitar:

Acoustic guitars usually use metal strings and these come in various gauges. A lighter gauge will be easier to play as they are thinner and less resistive under your fingers. They will, however, compromise the sound quality. A heavier string will resonate more and get the full potential of the instrument that you are playing but will feel harder to play. Often a string somewhere in the middle proves to be a nice balance. Some acoustic players prefer to use ball-ended nylon strings, such as D’Addario Folk Nylon sets. These offer softer strings that are easier to play and give a more mellow and softer tone. Some strings offer coatings that keep the string from corroding as quickly and make the string last longer. D’Addario’s EXP and Elixir strings are the two most popular examples.

We Recommend: Elixir Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings (Available In A Range of Gauges).

 

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Our recommended acoustic string.

Electric Guitar:

All of the things that apply to the acoustic guitar in terms of string gauge and playability also apply to electrics. If you play blues or rhythm guitar, use a slightly heavier gauge string. If you want to play lead guitar, however, a lighter string will be better. Unlike acoustic guitar strings, which are usually made up with two steel and four phosphor bronze strings, electric sets tend to be nickel wound. This is due to the magnetic pickups that electric guitars use. Flat-wound strings are available and these offer a very good blues tone and a different feel under your fingers. Again, some strings are coated so that they last longer.

We Recommend: Elixir Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings (Available In A Range of Gauges).

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Our recommended electric string.
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Featured

P Mauriat Le Bravo 200 Saxophones

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P Mauriat’s logo has the tagline ‘Go For The Sound’ and these saxophones most definitely do just that.

The P Mauriat Le Bravo 200 instruments have a unique brushed clear lacquer that shows the natural colour and texture of the brass underneath. The combination of the dual alloy combination and larger bell sizes on all the Le Bravo models also produces and bright, energetic and full tone.  P Mauriat have quickly developed a strong following and popular reception thanks to their excellent build quality and modest prices – all of their instruments are hand finished and played before leaving their factories and their professional range starts from £1300.00. For added projection and tone, the Le Bravo 200 range use the same Super VI neck found on their higher end and custom class instruments. The difference with the Le Bravo neck is that it is silver plated for a brighter sound. The Le Bravo 200 range is available in soprano, alto, tenor and baritone models and are all intermediate/professional class instruments despite being priced between £1,399.00 for the alto, £1,549.00 for the soprano, £1,899.00 for the tenor and £4,199.00 for the baritone model. In comparison with other professional class ranges, these prices are very competitive and their build quality and general feel is much better than most of their competition.

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Le Bravo 200 Alto Saxophone

We have spent a lot of time playing these instruments, and have come to the conclusion that you just can’t get a better sax for the money. We have compared them to the other instruments currently in stock as well as older vintage instruments that we’ve tried in the past and personally own. They’ve proven to be better in terms of their tone than most of the competition as well as cheaper.

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Every P Mauriat sax we sell does come with our full set-up, which includes a complete regulation and adjustment. We thoroughly play-test every instrument after the set-up, to insure the saxophone is in perfect playing condition. Current stock includes the Le Bravo 200 Alto model as well as the PMSA-185. The latter instrument is a cheaper version of the Le Bravo with standard gold lacquering and basic Super VI neck without silver plating. The standard lacquer and lack of engraving makes this instrument cheaper without compromising on build quality and feel and doesn’t affect the tone too dramatically. The PMSA-185 also comes with a cheaper case and is on sale for £1,099.00.

Ibanez GRX20 Electric Guitars

Ibanez GRX20 Electric Guitars

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GRX20 Electric Guitars 

We are proud to introduce the Ibanez GRX20, part of Ibanez’s ground-breaking GiO range. This guitar was designed developed as an ‘entry level’ electric guitar for players seeking the Ibanez quality in a more affordable package designed for new learners. Ibanez may consider these instruments to be ‘entry level’ but they out-perform every other ‘entry level’ electric guitar we have tried. Its solid feel, superb build quality and sound leave us convinced that no other guitar at this price will play or sound better than the GRX20.

As a player, especially a new starter, you want a guitar that is comfortable and easy to play whilst offering stable tuning, proper intonation and a great sound. It also needs to be exciting and should inspire you to practice, learn and improve your playing. The GRX20 is very easy to play, has a comfortable slimmed neck design and has fantastic pick-ups for a great rock sound.

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Black GRX20

Its edgy look and exceptional build quality speak to the fact that you’re buying into the Ibanez pedigree. As a leading electric guitar manufacturer, Ibanez work with some of the best players in the world. This means they understand what top musicians demand from their instruments and have the opportunity to develop instruments and ideas in partnership with the people that their products are designed for. This insight and experience is then shared across all of their price ranges and models, from the leading JEM 7V to the GRX20 and GiO range. All of their guitars are built with the care, precision and vision that you would expect from a world leading guitar manufacturer like Ibanez.

At Lakeland Music, we believe that good business is about working with fantastic manufacturers, quality products and funding the best instruments for all budgets. We aim to match every musician that walks through our door with the instrument that is right for them; we pride ourselves on value for money and good customer service. With that in mind, we are happy and proud to endorse the Ibanez GRX20, GiO range and brand as a whole. We also stock the Jumpstart pack that includes everything you need to get going, including: Ibanez GRG Electric Guitar, Gig Bag, 10W Practice Amp, Lead, Tuner, Strap, Picks and an Accessory Pouch.

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Jumpstart Pack Available in 3 Colours

We also stock a range of Ibanez acoustic guitars, from the Jampack through to higher-end AEW, AEG and Talman ranges.

The GRX20 range is available in-store and online and comes in a range of colours. Ask us for more information or to have a go.

Battery Powered Acoustic Guitar Amps

With the summer season fast approaching, musicians and music lovers alike will be venturing out of the door and into the world of campfires and festivals. As a lot of acoustic music is now amplified to cater for the sonic complexities of modern performance, taking an amp with you is increasingly common. A range of acoustic amps now come with battery power options as well as the conventional mains sockets so that musicians can take them to festivals and campsites. Here is our pick of those currently available on the market.

Laney A-FRESCO Amp:

The A-FRESCO is  a brand new amp from Laney that has been designed specifically for transportability and battery use. Not only does it have an eco-mode that allows for up to 24 hour use on a single set of batteries, it has been shaped to be reminiscent of a cajon. This turns your dual-input, lightweight battery amp into a portable seat. The powerful amp has a number of added benefits, including the ability to mount it to a PA stand and integrated chorus effects.

The A-FRESCO comes with a bass boost function that increases the level of bass present for when the amp has been mounted to a stand – this prevents floor vibration and tends to reduce natural bass resonance.

The ‘bass cut’ function has been designed for when the amp is placed on the floor. It gives a more refined tone that keeps the bass clean and clear rather than allowing it to cause too much vibration and interference.

Roland Cube Street

The Roland Cube Street is often seen in city centres around the country. With its digital modelling system, the amp can be optimised for vocal, electric guitar, keyboard or acoustic guitar set-ups. Its wedge shape projects well from the floor into the street. Being a Roland amp, it is packed with Boss effects – great sounding Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo and an Octave as well a tap tempo delay and a choice of reverb settings. These amps also have two inputs for a guitar and microphone.

Yamaha THR5A

Yamaha have developed the THR5A as a digital portable amp with the added bonus of having USB connectivity so it can be used as an interface recorder. This, unlike the others, is more suited to home playing and campfire playing due to its size and built-in effects. It is, however, surprisingly powerful and could be used for small venue use.

The THR5A has amp optimisation for the following functions as part of Yamaha’s Advanced Instrument Modelling Software:

  • Modelled Condenser Mic Setting.
  • Modelled Dynamic Mic Setting.
  • Modelled Nylon optimisation.
  • Modelled Tube Amp Setting.
  • Clean Electric Settings.

The Importance of Music Education In Schools

A few weeks ago, at the Rheged Centre outside Penrith, there was the Cumbrian Music Education Conference. This was the first year that this has taken place, and we were lucky enough to have been invited along to the day. A lot of great talks and ideas were being shared from groups and musicians all aimed at schools to help them build on their music education in the classroom. Recent years and funding cuts have seen many of the art budgets being slashed and music ignored for preferential focus on the ‘Core Subjects’. At Lakeland Music, our staff members have degrees in Maths, History and Accountancy; whilst we don’t underestimate the importance of core subjects, we also know the value of music. Music, as any experienced musician will tell you, is based around maths but can be approached in a way that makes it accessible to anyone. It can also be a good approach to teaching english, including the addition of music to poetry as well as the use of educational songs on anatomy and science to help other subjects. For the musical minded child, these approaches can be much more engaging and approachable than conventional teaching methods and text books.

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P Bone make plastic instruments designed for schools and even run workshops and courses in local primary and secondary schools.

 

Music can build relationships, friendships, confidence and aptitude in so many fields as well as providing people with an escape and something fun to do that can be unbelievable rewarding. Unfortunately, music is sometimes expensive, and often elitist. That’s why music education in schools is so important; it levels the field and gives everyone a chance and opportunity to try different instruments, learn about music and benefit from the doors it opens. It gives every child, regardless of economic or social background, the chance to learn the basics, learn an instrument and opens up the ability for young people to learn a skill or find a hobby that could last a lifetime and change their lives. Some kids struggle with maths, science and english and this can seriously knock confidence from a young age. These same kids can excel at music, drama, art and design; this can give them the confidence back and give a platform for further academic success.

As such, it’s an extraordinary privilege to be here advocating for music education and sharing our knowledge and experience with representatives and delegates of Cumbria’s primary and secondary schools. It’s also great to see the amount of enthusiasm and interest from these schools as well as hearing all about their plans for enhancing and furthering their current options and courses. It’s also great to see how many of our local schools have teachers with musical experience and knowledge. The fact that those who don’t are equally keen to learn is even more reassuring and rewarding.

This was the first year of this conference and having been there and having seen the level of enthusiasm and engagement, we are confident and delighted that there will be more in the future.

Yamaha THR Series Amplifiers

Upon their release last year, the new range of THR amps quickly became the major talking point of the Yamaha amp range. They were marketed as the perfect ‘third amp’ as they combined a huge range of features, from advanced sound engines through to a range of chorus and phaser effects, into one compact cabinet.

The THR range was developed with Yamaha’s award-winning AV division to offer true hi-fi stereo sound and a new experience in guitar amplifiers. The exclusive, specially designed, speaker enclosure is optimised to handle both guitar and stereo playback sounds making THR uniquely capable of giving you amazing tone for both your guitar and your track from a compact, portable amp.

THR5 and THR5A Amplifier

 

THR incorporates Yamaha’s new Extended Stereo Technology to create an incredibly wide, spacious audio image. Stereo tracks and studio quality reverb take on a depth unimaginable from such a small enclosure.

The THR amps may have been designed for, and remain popular as a result of, their compact cabinets; they also have some of Yamaha’s most advanced sound modelling technology to ensure they have the biggest sound possible. By utilising their Virtual Circuitry Modelling software, the THR series have a range of accurately modelled amp tones to give easy access to iconic sounds, including clean, crunch, lead and brit hi settings. The THR5A, the acoustic model, focuses on giving the best possible acoustic sound for your guitar. As a result, it offers modelled sounds that are designed for nylon stringed classical guitars as well as the more common steel strung electro-acoustic models.

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THR5A Top Panel

In addition to the easy to use modelled sounds, the THR range come with a selection of effects that can be applied to varying degrees. This includes chorus, tremolo, delay, reverb and compressor effects as well as the ability to overlay certain effects to give the same combinations normally only available from using multiple effect pedals. The THR range also come with a tap tempo function that allows you to control the speed of the delay and chorus effects by tapping the desired tempo.

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THR5 Top Panel

The compact body and range of on-board features have been very popular with touring musicians wanting a small amp for practicing with off stage. They have also been popular with buskers; the option to power these amps through batteries enhancing their popularity. In addition to the battery power option and range of effects, the THR range come fitted with built-in tuners, thus helping to keep your guitar in tune throughout your practices and performances.

The THR5 is bundled with Cubase AI, Steinberg’s professional music production application that offers full-fledged recording and editing. This can be done by either connecting your amp directly to your computer with the software installed, or by connecting it to a recording device. Either way, the pairing of this amp and Cubase AI means you get a fantastic sound and features as well as recording capabilities from the compact cases.

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THR5 Models Glow Like an Old Valve Amp

At Lakeland Music, we think these amps are perfect for busking musicians as well as guitarists practicing in their bedrooms that want access to a range of effects and features as well as the expandability of the recording potential. The use of clever technology means you can have this without compromising on sound or space. We stock the THR5 and THR5A amplifiers because we were so impressed by the size of their sound when compared to the size of their cabinets. We also stock a new range of Yamaha electric and acoustic guitars. Come and visit us to see them for yourself and have a go.

History of Wilhelm Steinberg

Wilhelm Steinberg was established in the renowned German piano manufacturing town of Eisenberg in 1877. For over 135 years the company has held a long tradition of producing some of the finest, hand-made pianos.  Originally formed by Adolf Heinrich Geyer and stamped with his name, the company survived the requisition policy of the German Third Reich during the Second World War that repurposed factories across Germany for ammunition and weaponry production. It was spared this repurposing due to its long history and cultural significance in the region. At the end of the war, it was rebuilt and staffed under the name Wilhelm Steinberg AG, with the ‘AG’ being a nod to the company’s founder, Adolf Geyer.

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Front door to the Wilhelm Sternberg Visitor Centre

When Germany was split under the post-war settlement, Eisenberg fell into the Eastern territory and was part of the German Democratic Republic. Under the National Socialist policies of this state, the piano manufacturers of the region were all nationalised and incorporated into the VEB Pianofortefabric Eisenberg until the reintegration of Germany in 1949. Wilhelm Steinberg emerged again as an independent company, clinging to its roots and traditions.

To this day, Wilhelm Steinberg make their pianos with traditional construction methods and materials; their use of hardwoods sourced exclusively from trees in the Val di Fiemme region remains one of their trademarks and longest held traditions. These woods have tighter growth rings unique to this region and Wilhelm Steinberg believes its use in their soundboards gives their pianos better resonance and tonal quality.

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Fiemme Valley in the Val di Fiemme region.

The Wilhelm Steinberg IQ28, a new arrival at Lakeland Music, was their top of the range model for many years. It has the same Kluge Keyboard found in many Steinway upright pianos made at the same time. These keyboards have vertical stability pins as well as extended key arms to give a smoother action and response. This is particularly noticeable in the piano’s dynamic response; the keys make achieving a subtle pianissimo as easy as hitting a strong and powerful fortissimo. The IQ28 also uses Remmer Hammers; these are also commonly used on Steinway pianos. Remmer remain the most popular independent hammer manufacturing company for the world’s elite piano manufacturers and their hammers can be found on some of the world’s finest pianos in some of the most prestigious concert halls. They are famous for their longevity, durable construction and smooth strike that gives a clean and pure tone.

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Our pre-owned IQ-28

The Wilhelm Steinberg IQ28 currently in-store is a pre-owned instrument that was originally purchased in 2001. Despite this, it is in pristine condition. It looks, feels and sounds like a brand new instrument with a strong tone and a competitive price. Due to their prestige and quality, it is rare for these pianos to be available as a pre-owned instrument, making this a unique opportunity.