The continued struggles of learning guitar

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McNutt
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The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by McNutt »

When I was in college I bought an acoustic guitar, took exactly one lesson, learned a few chords, and gave it to my neice.
Later on down the road I started playing Guitar Hero and the itch to play real guitar returned. I bought an Epiphone Les Paul and gave it about the same amount of practice. I gave it to my son and lowered my head in shame.

In February I decided to give it one last try. I bought a Fender Telecaster (MIM) and the game/learning tool Rocksmith. I played Rocksmith for a few weeks and found it pretty relaxing. After that I singed up for Fender Play, which is a guitar tutorial video series. I stopped playing Roksmith after that.

The good news is that I practice guitar every night. I have a mini amp that allows me to quietly play through headphones while I watch either the Fender videos or whatever movie/TV show. I still suck, but I can play a lot more stuff easily (chords, simple tunes). Barre chords, which seemed impossible at first, aren't so daunting now.

I'm finding that playing the guitar is one of the most relaxing things I can do. I haven't played a video game in months and all my free time is spent with the guitar in hand. It's awesome. I've definitely turned the corner now and don't see myself giving this up.

I also really love the Telecaster. It just seems to fit my hands better than the Les Paul. Next I'll need to grab an acoustic too.
Last edited by McNutt on Tue Apr 28, 2020 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by coopasonic »

Nice. I have had a similar journey starting about 20 years ago. I took lessons in my mid 20s but it was also when I was "addicted" to Everquest so I never actually practiced and it didn't stick. I went through Guitar Hero and a couple of versions of Rocksmith. I got decent with Rocksmith but hit a wall and walked away. Last year my 10yo started taking lessons and I tried to practice with him, but not getting the same lessons he was I wasn't that much help and he wasn't very motivated.

We might check out Fender Play. He has actually been practicing his guitar more now that we are stuck at home. He has been watching youtube tutorials, not sure which ones. I just hear him playing more and better now than ever before.

It's a ridiculously complex instrument but so much fun when you can make things that sound like actual music.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by McNutt »

I tried a month of Jamplay for free. It's a lot different than Fender Play. Fender Play has a path that you follow. It hits the basics and goes over reading music, repetitive exercises and slowly building fun chord stuff. It's easy to follow and does a good job. The production value is very high.

Jamplay is totally different. You don't follow a path, but instead pick an instructor (they have tons of instructors) and go through that instructor's lessons. I stayed mainly with one guy during my month and I really liked what he was teaching. I felt like I learned more with his lessons than I did with an equivalent number of Fender lessons. However, the production quality of the videos was terrible and it wasn't always easy to follow.

I prepaid for a year of Fender because it seemed good and it was about half the cost. I'm happy with the purchase and think it's a good way to go from zero. After the year is up I might switch back to Jamplay and pick different instructors who might specialize on higher skill levels.

Right now I'm doing about half video instruction and half playing songs that I find in various chord utility sites. One good one I've found is Chordu.com. They have a ton of songs there and it is easy to follow the chords throughout the song.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Jaymann »

I bought a Martin D-18 acoustic in my late teens and played the snot out of it for years. At first I only knew a few chords, but I practiced switching between them endlessly. Then in college some friends taught me some stuff, and eventually I picked up a Les Paul for cheap. Once I became moderately competent with electric, I rarely went back to acoustic. Then came career and family and I didn't play much.

Fast forward many years, I had the money and time to get back into it, plus my son was starting to play (he is a Rocksmith devote') so I gave him the Les Paul and I got me a vintage Telecaster.

In the early days I actually taught myself to read music and bought some song books to painfully figure out songs note by note. The difference now is you can easily look up just about any song you are interested in on the internet and plow through it at your leisure, a tremendous advantage. Now with the lockdown I try to play at least 30 minutes or so every day. That seems to be enough to stay in practice.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Xmann »

McNutt wrote:When I was in college I bought an acoustic guitar, took exactly one lesson, learned a few chords, and gave it to my neice.
Later on down the road I started playing Guitar Hero and the itch to play real guitar returned. I bought an Epiphone Les Paul and gave it about the same amount of practice. I gave it to my son and lowered my head in shame.

In February I decided to give it one last try. I bought a Fender Telecaster (MIM) and the game/learning tool Rocksmith. I played Rocksmith for a few weeks and found it pretty relaxing. After that I singed up for Fender Play, which is a guitar tutorial video series. I stopped playing Roksmith after that.

The good news is that I practice guitar every night. I have a mini amp that allows me to quietly play through headphones while I watch either the Fender videos or whatever movie/TV show. I still suck, but I can play a lot more stuff easily (chords, simple tunes). Barre chords, which seemed impossible at first, aren't so daunting now.

I'm finding that playing the guitar is one of the most relaxing things I can do. I haven't played a video game in months and all my free time is spent with the guitar in hand. It's awesome. I've definitely turned the corner now and don't see myself giving this up.

I also really love the Telecaster. It just seems to fit my hands better than the Les Paul. Next I'll need to grab an acoustic too.
Your story is mine.

I bought an acoustic for a New Year's gift to myself in 2019. I subscribed to Guitar Tricks and it seems like a good place to start for beginners. I practiced every night for 30-45 minutes. I did this for 6 months until I learned a few cords and that's about it. I then bought myself a Ibanez electric because that's what I really wanted to play. I did that for a few weeks and quit out of frustration. Also gave up on Guitar Tricks because I couldn't take the instructors lessons any longer. She's good, but her personality is opposite of what I find interesting in people.

My wife is always suggesting me to start practicing and what not, but I never had motivation. A few weeks ago I picked it up again and I'm trying to get 30 minutes of practice a night. However, I just can't find a system I can stick with.

I have the Fender app downloaded, maybe I'll give that a go. I'm already losing interest again.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Isgrimnur »

Sounds like you guys need a conference stream to kibbitz, support, and practice.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by McNutt »

Xmann wrote: Tue Apr 28, 2020 10:28 pmYour story is mine.
Let's stick together on this. It's too awesome a skill to give up on. Seriously, if you need some motivation, PM me and we can talk each other off the ledge and get back on track.

For me electric guitar was key because I honestly don't have the ability to play an acoustic at night (when i practice) without waking everybody up. The low volume of this (headphones too if I want to actually sound like an electric) means I can practice anytime I'm watching a show. Usually about 30 minutes of lessons gives me enough new stuff to fool around with while I spend the rest of the night watching TV.

Don't forget to throw in some easy songs. When you play something that only requires a few chords (there are tons of rock song examples) it's going to make you feel like you accomplished something.

Let's do it!
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by em2nought »

So with an electric guitar and amp(?) along with headphones you can play so no one else in the house has to hear it?

Somebody I know wants a guitar. I was thinking of getting myself a ukulele, but maybe I'll get her the guitar and just share it. Can a chordbuddy https://www.chordbuddy.com/ be used with an electric guitar? I don't think I'd ever learn to play without a device for the musically handicapped. :doh:

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Xmann
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Xmann »

McNutt wrote:
Xmann wrote: Tue Apr 28, 2020 10:28 pmYour story is mine.
Let's stick together on this. It's too awesome a skill to give up on. Seriously, if you need some motivation, PM me and we can talk each other off the ledge and get back on track.

For me electric guitar was key because I honestly don't have the ability to play an acoustic at night (when i practice) without waking everybody up. The low volume of this (headphones too if I want to actually sound like an electric) means I can practice anytime I'm watching a show. Usually about 30 minutes of lessons gives me enough new stuff to fool around with while I spend the rest of the night watching TV.

Don't forget to throw in some easy songs. When you play something that only requires a few chords (there are tons of rock song examples) it's going to make you feel like you accomplished something.

Let's do it!
I'm going to give the Fender app a shot this weekend.

I bought an electric guitar, amp, headphones exactly like you have. I also have Rocksmith and pretty much everything else you have mentioned.

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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by malchior »

I've been playing for several years. I self-taught myself using books/screwing around and would categorize myself as a decent rhythm player. I'm not great at solos but never really worked at it. I didn't have the interest. I can usually handle simple stuff though. The solos from Green Day songs are generally fairly easy IMO for example.

The guitar is challenging to start and the learning curve gets better but like any instrument quality practice time is what makes a difference. And everyone learns differently. For example, I hate scales. I don't know them. I don't care. If I was into blues riffing maybe that'd change. One thing I'd say is what works for me is figuring out how to play songs I like. When I started it was frustrating to not sound the same. Years later I'm happy that I sound my way and like how the song goes. The important thing is to get past the frustration at the beginning. Eventually it'll just become a habit.

As to learning, hands down the best learning tool I used was Rocksmith by far. I went through both versions. The lessons are decent but just the ability to play live tabs was a game changer for me. Over time, it became a versatile toolkit. You can use it so many ways. For example, the ability to grab 'pirate' tabs from customsforge.com is unbeatable. So many songs/genres that don't have enough DLC commercial appeal are available there. For example, some madman made the entire Ghost Prelude album as one big track. Why? I don't know but I've played it like 10 times. Over time I've evolved my usage to the point that I don't even "play the game" anymore. I just use it as live tabs/tracking so I can hear the playing with the 'rest of the band'. I instead plug straight into my amp, stand in front of the cab, and use it as my monitor. It also tells me every time that I had a 'bad performance' for failing to hit any notes which keeps me humble. I do suck. Thanks for reminding me Rocksmith.

Edit: I also sometimes do the headphone thing. My amp is an Orange Micro Dark and it has pretty decent cab simulation on the headphone output. Especially now with my wife home. I can't always crank that thing to ear bleed and let loose. :)
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by disarm »

I bought a Stratocaster and an acoustic to start teaching myself roughly seven years ago. Thanks to musical understanding from playing other instruments, I felt like I was doing pretty well for a while...used lessons from YouTube, Rocksmith and a few other free online sources. Then my fiance moved into my apartment with the stepkids while we built our house...

Thanks to squeezing four people into my two bedroom apartment, I lost my practice space, my guitars were put away to make room for extra people, my son was born, and I stopped practicing. We've been in our house for five years now, and I could count on one hand the number of times I've touched my guitar since. I feel like I would practically be starting over now, but I do want to get back to it. I've been contemplating it now that I'm getting more time at home...just not looking forward to killing my finger tips until the callouses reform
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Xmann »

malchior wrote:I've been playing for several years. I self-taught myself using books/screwing around and would categorize myself as a decent rhythm player. I'm not great at solos but never really worked at it. I didn't have the interest. I can usually handle simple stuff though. The solos from Green Day songs are generally fairly easy IMO for example.

The guitar is challenging to start and the learning curve gets better but like any instrument quality practice time is what makes a difference. And everyone learns differently. For example, I hate scales. I don't know them. I don't care. If I was into blues riffing maybe that'd change. One thing I'd say is what works for me is figuring out how to play songs I like. When I started it was frustrating to not sound the same. Years later I'm happy that I sound my way and like how the song goes. The important thing is to get past the frustration at the beginning. Eventually it'll just become a habit.

As to learning, hands down the best learning tool I used was Rocksmith by far. I went through both versions. The lessons are decent but just the ability to play live tabs was a game changer for me. Over time, it became a versatile toolkit. You can use it so many ways. For example, the ability to grab 'pirate' tabs from customsforge.com is unbeatable. So many songs/genres that don't have enough DLC commercial appeal are available there. For example, some madman made the entire Ghost Prelude album as one big track. Why? I don't know but I've played it like 10 times. Over time I've evolved my usage to the point that I don't even "play the game" anymore. I just use it as live tabs/tracking so I can hear the playing with the 'rest of the band'. I instead plug straight into my amp, stand in front of the cab, and use it as my monitor. It also tells me every time that I had a 'bad performance' for failing to hit any notes which keeps me humble. I do suck. Thanks for reminding me Rocksmith.

Edit: I also sometimes do the headphone thing. My amp is an Orange Micro Dark and it has pretty decent cab simulation on the headphone output. Especially now with my wife home. I can't always crank that thing to ear bleed and let loose. :)
I have Rocksmith and I guess set myself up for failure by trying to play The Trooper by Iron Maiden, without any idea what I was doing, and saying screw this nonsense.

If you start from the beginning with lessons, would you say it's a reasonable learning tool? All I've ever wanted to do was get to the point I could play some songs and riffs. I'm an 80's hair metal guy and that's the reason I bought my guitars in the first place. I understand theory and technique is crucial, but I just want to be able to learn so I can play the music I love, even if it's just riffs.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by malchior »

Xmann wrote: Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:54 am
malchior wrote:I've been playing for several years. I self-taught myself using books/screwing around and would categorize myself as a decent rhythm player. I'm not great at solos but never really worked at it. I didn't have the interest. I can usually handle simple stuff though. The solos from Green Day songs are generally fairly easy IMO for example.

The guitar is challenging to start and the learning curve gets better but like any instrument quality practice time is what makes a difference. And everyone learns differently. For example, I hate scales. I don't know them. I don't care. If I was into blues riffing maybe that'd change. One thing I'd say is what works for me is figuring out how to play songs I like. When I started it was frustrating to not sound the same. Years later I'm happy that I sound my way and like how the song goes. The important thing is to get past the frustration at the beginning. Eventually it'll just become a habit.

As to learning, hands down the best learning tool I used was Rocksmith by far. I went through both versions. The lessons are decent but just the ability to play live tabs was a game changer for me. Over time, it became a versatile toolkit. You can use it so many ways. For example, the ability to grab 'pirate' tabs from customsforge.com is unbeatable. So many songs/genres that don't have enough DLC commercial appeal are available there. For example, some madman made the entire Ghost Prelude album as one big track. Why? I don't know but I've played it like 10 times. Over time I've evolved my usage to the point that I don't even "play the game" anymore. I just use it as live tabs/tracking so I can hear the playing with the 'rest of the band'. I instead plug straight into my amp, stand in front of the cab, and use it as my monitor. It also tells me every time that I had a 'bad performance' for failing to hit any notes which keeps me humble. I do suck. Thanks for reminding me Rocksmith.

Edit: I also sometimes do the headphone thing. My amp is an Orange Micro Dark and it has pretty decent cab simulation on the headphone output. Especially now with my wife home. I can't always crank that thing to ear bleed and let loose. :)
I have Rocksmith and I guess set myself up for failure by trying to play The Trooper by Iron Maiden, without any idea what I was doing, and saying screw this nonsense.

If you start from the beginning with lessons, would you say it's a reasonable learning tool? All I've ever wanted to do was get to the point I could play some songs and riffs. I'm an 80's hair metal guy and that's the reason I bought my guitars in the first place. I understand theory and technique is crucial, but I just want to be able to learn so I can play the music I love, even if it's just riffs.
Yeah Rocksmith is a great tool for this. If you want to play scales it'll help. If you want to jump into easy songs. They have those. You can also mod down the difficulty of your songs. Rocksmith has progressive difficulty though I personally don't use it. I can't separate parts from the whole. If it doesn't sound right to my ear then it doesn't work for me. Different folks vary on this so it comes down to learning style and it is a flexible tool that I believe would work with the vast majority of beginners.

I'll say you picked a bit of a challenging song to start with. It requires you to be relatively strong on both the fretting and strumming/picking out individual strings sides. You need to be able to move along the fret board with confidence. Starting with some 'basic' strumming type rock songs would likely be better.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by McNutt »

I had some issues with Rocksmith. Very often I would nail a challenge and it would give me an error that I was on the wrong fret (I wasn't) or that I didn't have the correct chord when I know I did. It wasn't a tuning issue because I was in tune. I'm not sure what was the problem, but it was causing a lot of frustration and was making want to stop. When I was in the amp section and just screwing around there was a noticeable delay in when I strummed and when I heard it.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by malchior »

McNutt wrote: Wed Apr 29, 2020 2:20 pm I had some issues with Rocksmith. Very often I would nail a challenge and it would give me an error that I was on the wrong fret (I wasn't) or that I didn't have the correct chord when I know I did. It wasn't a tuning issue because I was in tune. I'm not sure what was the problem, but it was causing a lot of frustration and was making want to stop. When I was in the amp section and just screwing around there was a noticeable delay in when I strummed and when I heard it.
A lot of delay is odd. The most delay I had was through my Denon receiver, I'd rate it at distracting for the first 10 minutes of any session, eventually I played with my receiver settings to overcome it. In my current set up my PC is into a sound bar and it is near zero delay. The absolute best I had was when I was using it directly on a laptop. It is pretty dependent on whatever the individual is using. That delay could have been the problem with the challenges - there is a utility to sync up with your delay if that was the issue. Another is that the signal might have not been what it needed to be. It could have been dirty, too low, had buzz, etc.

As an aside, delay isn't a Rocksmith only issue. I used to run live sound at punk shows in the 90s and processing delay is a real-world problem in some set ups. I loved getting bitched at about that when the random opening act didn't bring their own monitors and we're trying to play off the PA.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Xmann »

I have used the Fender program for a couple days and really like it. I like how they mix in sounds pretty often. I've already good Satisfaction and Waiting in Vain down pretty good. Looks like Another Brick in the Wall is my next one. Makes learning more barrable when you only what you are playing.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

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em2nought wrote: Wed Apr 29, 2020 3:18 am So with an electric guitar and amp(?) along with headphones you can play so no one else in the house has to hear it?

Somebody I know wants a guitar. I was thinking of getting myself a ukulele, but maybe I'll get her the guitar and just share it. Can a chordbuddy https://www.chordbuddy.com/ be used with an electric guitar? I don't think I'd ever learn to play without a device for the musically handicapped. :doh:

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I heard about these but can't use it for long, even with a ukulele. As a learning tool is quite neat but after learning a couple of scales and chords, you won't need it. Though it makes fun noises when used on bass guitar.
As said above, I agree that the guitar has the best learning curve, and from my experience, it should be learned first even if you're planning to play drums (even electronic ones like this) as I do.
Xmann wrote: Sun May 03, 2020 12:12 am I have used the Fender program for a couple days and really like it. I like how they mix in sounds pretty often. I've already good Satisfaction and Waiting in Vain down pretty good. Looks like Another Brick in the Wall is my next one. Makes learning more barrable when you only what you are playing.
Indeed, I have used it for a couple of months and I like it, even on bass.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by paulbaxter »

Just FWIW, Berklee has a beginning guitar course that's four weeks long and available on Coursera. I signed up for the heck of it, though I suspect that it's below my level. I can always use a reminder or pick up new things about fundamentals.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by gameoverman »

I tried learning to play in my teens-early twenties. It was before the internet though, so there was no easy video access for learning it besides Frederick Noad on PBS. I got an acoustic and gave it a go. Total fail. I didn't know that guitar 'setups' were a thing. I didn't know that cheap guitars might not stay in tune. There was a bunch of little things that I didn't know that would have made a big difference. I thought a guitar was a guitar, that you paid more for fancier materials. Now you can watch Youtube videos that tell you everything. I'm not really interested in learning to play now, but I'll be ready if that changes.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by disarm »

Arise old thread!

How are everyone's attempts to learn guitar going a few years down the road? The last time I posted here, I was hoping to get my efforts going again, but then COVID happened, my work life was turned upside down (in a way that has taken up way more of my time), and I never touched it again...until something cool happened...

A few months ago, totally out of nowhere, my 9yo son told me that he wanted to start playing guitar. I grew up in a musical family (six years of piano, played clarinet for eight years during elementary and high school) and not-so-secretly hoped that one of my kids would show some interest in an instrument. My step daughters went other directions (dance and sports), but my youngest has taken an interest in rock music and came home after 'instrument tryouts' for the elementary school band saying he wants to learn guitar instead. Fast-forward a couple months while we found an instructor and time in our schedule, and he'll be having his fourth lesson this weekend...and he loves it so far!

I found a guy in his mid-50s who has had his own guitar studio for 30+ years, actually seems like a cool guy, and loves teaching kids how to rock. He teaches all levels of private lessons and runs a 'Rock Band 101’ program where his students (and a friend's percussion students) form bands and play local gigs. It's a perfect fit for my son's current musical interests.

The added bonus to my son learning guitar? It has rekindled my efforts as I try to help him with practice. While we gauge my son's real interests and commitment, he gets put my neglected Stratocaster (MIM version) to use, and we're taking the learning journey together. My previous experience puts me a bit ahead of him for now, but it makes it easy for me to help him at home...and eventually, I may end up picking up a few things from him (or maybe signing up for lessons of my own).

It's been a great shared experience already and I'm excited to see where this goes for both of us!

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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Blackhawk »

I studied acoustic guitar diligently... for about three months 25 years ago.

I'd actually like to be able to play acoustic guitar. Or something like it. It wouldn't have to be guitar, but I'd prefer something that can be played casually and melodically while relaxing, as opposed to something that can only be played loudly or as a dedicated activity.

Ok, that last bit was awkward. Let me put it this way: Assuming you know how to play them, you can pick up your guitar on a whim, kick back in a chair, and play or experiment. You can't do that with an instrument like a piano or an upright bass, which generally require you to go to them. And you can't do it with drums or a trumpet (well, you can, but you'll be playing with a perpetual mute/practice pads rather than using the full range.) A guitar or similar plucked string instrument would be my choice (my son actually has a mandolin that I've thought about fiddling with.) I'd also be happy with a cello (I played violin and viola for around a decade), but they're a bit expensive. Make that a lot expensive.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

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I played guitar (primarily acoustic) self-taught for awhile in my 20s. I was never all that good, but I knew my chords and could play some songs.

A few years ago I switched over to ukulele and never went back to guitar. It's much easier to play, and it takes up way less space. I know it's not as "serious" an instrument as a guitar, but I'm not performing for anyone but myself so it's been the perfect instrument to dabble in as a side hobby. I've really gotten into fingerpicking vs just strumming, and that's been a lot more challenging (but also a lot more fun).
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Blackhawk »

When I did study, my interest in playing chords was near zero. As a part of learning, sure, but as a style of playing? Nope.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by hitbyambulance »

i just started violin. i've found _lessons are expensive_
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by Blackhawk »

I miss playing violin (although I sucked, even at the end.) I'd love to have one to fiddle around with again, but not so badly that I'd drop the amount of money involved to get one.
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by YellowKing »

Random update - my daughter asked me a couple of weeks ago if we could restring my electric guitar so she could start learning how to play. I've got a 1994 Fender Stratocaster I bought way back in the day for $500. At the time it was an absolute insane purchase for a college kid with absolutely no money, but I really wanted to learn to play.

That guitar has been in and out of my closet several times over the decades, but I had not touched it in probably 10 years. So it was awesome to take it out of retirement and get it all tuned up and back to fighting shape. My daughter has been practicing with it a lot and has impressed the heck out of me with how quickly she's started picking up chords.

This inspired me to get my acoustic out of retirement, and despite my previous post of "never going back" I've kind of fallen back in love with the guitar again. After the simplicity of the ukulele I had been hesitant to ever go back to it as it seemed "too hard," but I was surprised at how much stuff came back to me after just a few practice sessions. I've been watching a lot of fingerpicking song tutorials and have re-learned Ripple, Wild World, Blackbird, etc. I'm still not great but it's been a fun diversion and even better because it's an instrument my daughter and I can play together.
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disarm
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Re: The continued struggles of learning guitar

Post by disarm »

YellowKing wrote:My daughter has been practicing with it a lot and has impressed the heck out of me with how quickly she's started picking up chords.
That sounds a lot like how things are going with my son. It's amazing to see just how much of a sponge his 9yo mind is for learning something as complicated as the electric guitar. After five lessons (once a week), he already has a solid understanding of how to play power chords, the pentatonic scale, and just learned the blues scale. While his dexterity to play things cleanly is a huge work in progress, he's been very quick at learning how to move simple chords and scale patterns around the fretboard. It's pretty cool to see how quickly he's learning.

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