Hope you aren't tired of my posts yet. :-)
So, everything is good to go. Guitar, case, picks, and snark tuner bought. Lessons signed up for and guitar going in today for a new guitar setup.
This question is to everyone, beginners and advanced players alike.
What were the biggest problems/challenges for you when you began playing and how did you overcome/fix them? I've heard so many stories of people with good intentions about playing the guitar, then they get frustrated and then they give it up. I don't want that for me and I'm sure other beginners are wondering the same thing.
I agree with eveything that Terry says. In addition, when you can't figure something out on your own - seek a mentor, or teacher. If you don't have friends that play, join a local jam groups, many places have them. Back when I was learning there was a lot of "every guitarist for himself" kind of attitude in my area. Not many wanted to share their secrets. Today, fortunately, the internet provides so many great resources (also, some bad).
While I'm not classically trained, though I did take a summer's worth of classical guitar instruction, learning some theory helps puts some concepts in perspective. Also, I remember after I learned a few chords thinking I was ready to play in a band. Surprisingly, back in those days, we could play many of the popular tunes with about 6 chords. Of course - mostly in the first position. Playing that way for awhile got really boring, especially when music kind of exploded - mid 60's. That's when I discoverd chords could be played all up and down the neck.
It wasn't until some time later I learned the importance of visulization of the fretboard. I never was exposed to the CAGED system, but take some time to learn the basics of it, and you will learn to visualize the fretboard, which opens up so many possibilities to improving your playing, both with new moveable chord shapes, and soloing as you progress.
Learn to open you hearing up. Learn a D major, Dminor, and D7 chord and play them well enough to listen to the sound and change of the notes. Learn why a D major is a D major, again a little theory will give you great insight in appreciating music. You don't have to learn to sight read, but it will never hurt you.
While tabs are helpful, don't get stuck on them. Try to pickup things by using your ears, and eyes. See as many live acts as you can. Don't be shy about expressing your enjoyment of someone's playing. Most musicians eat compliments up heartily, and will answer questions about gear or tunes.
As Terry says - practice, practice, practice! But be careful, just don't pick up the guitar without having some purpose in mind - fun first and foremost, but practice things you are not good at. I know, that's everything at first, but as you move along, those first chords will just come to you without thinking about it.
Lastly, keep playing everyday if possible. Musicians are like atheletes, you have to keep at it to improve. Most of us are not going to be Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, Slash, Jimmy Page, or whoever - but you can join the majority that play well enough to get enjoyment and get a smile and nod every now and then.
Excellent points. Thanks Terry.
I've been at this just over 3 years. I am no where near where I would like to be. I'm not ready to sit in FOR Clapton. What keeps me going is HAVING FUN. If I miss a day or 2 of not plunking, I get the shakes. Take JOY in every little accomplishment. From your post, I think you are right where you should be; your equipment is at it's best condition. I do not have an instructor. Where I live there are none within reasonable distance. A buddy who has played "forever" is my coach. We all do the best with what we have to work with. You're ready to start. I won't wish you luck, because luck has nothing to do with it. It's WORK, but rewarding WORK. Stick to it and HAVE FUN. Dean
Find a couple of songs you really want to learn to play. nothing hard, maybe three easy open chords, G, C. and D for example. Chords you need to learn anyway, but learning them within the context of eventually playing that song you like. It may be months before you can string them together to where they actually sound like that song, but that's your goal. There's nothing like that high when you get it down.
Good point, Craig. I remember the first time my wife came into my practice room and told me she recognized the song I was playing. Made me feel pretty good.
What do you guys think is the best way to deal with developing calluses on your fingertips. Do you play till it hurts and then keep going? Stop when it hurts? Stop before it hurts?
In general, play until it hurts - never play beyond hurting. I found this out the hard way. I was learning Gypsy Jazz rhythm, and developed issues with elbow - "golfers' elbow", inside of my elbow just burned when I played. I had to stop playing for 6 months, and slowly recovered the use of my arm with physical massage therapy. Another guitarist I know had the same issue, but unfortunately he totally ignored it, until he just couldn't move it any longer. He has not been able to play since. Now, I'm telling you this information not to scare you, but as I've said before, musicians are like atheletes. It's OK to play through a little pain, but just be mindful, the body's sense of pain is telling you to take some thought before doing more - heed the warning. Your fingers will become more accustomed to playing guitar over time, but don't rush it. Marathon practices sessions do little real good anyway. As an alternative, do some finger isometric exersises during these times. You can improve your muscle co-ordination without hurting your fingertips that way. ;-)
1. Do not become "capo dependent" don't even think of using one until you are at least 2 to 3 years into playing.
2. Practice 20 minutes 3 times a day.
3. Try to avoid the "Folksinger Scrub" Down up down up with no change in dynamics some times the song calls for it but most of the time not.
4. If your fingers don't hurt your not playing enough. Over time the pain will go away.
5. The fun won't start for about a year but when it does you will see it will be worth the effort.
Not sure what capo is.
Point 2 is interesting. So break the practice into smaller sessions instead of one big session. Nice.
Still 1 hour total.
Don't know what a capo is? Good you are off to a good start.