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Beginner Guitar Tips?

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Johnhenry'shammer 29 Jul 06 - 12:06 AM
Phil Cooper 29 Jul 06 - 12:39 AM
Bert 29 Jul 06 - 03:16 AM
Peace 29 Jul 06 - 03:41 AM
Bert 29 Jul 06 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,Ian Pittaway 29 Jul 06 - 05:24 AM
Fortunato 29 Jul 06 - 11:50 AM
Greg B 29 Jul 06 - 03:45 PM
Doug Chadwick 29 Jul 06 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,noddy 29 Jul 06 - 05:55 PM
Tweed 29 Jul 06 - 06:43 PM
Don Firth 29 Jul 06 - 07:18 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 29 Jul 06 - 09:23 PM
Don Firth 29 Jul 06 - 10:36 PM
Don Firth 29 Jul 06 - 10:45 PM
Scoville 29 Jul 06 - 10:59 PM
Peace 29 Jul 06 - 11:05 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Jul 06 - 03:23 AM
Johnhenry'shammer 30 Jul 06 - 03:54 AM
Rusty Dobro 30 Jul 06 - 05:25 AM
Tim theTwangler 30 Jul 06 - 05:52 AM
van lingle 30 Jul 06 - 07:04 AM
Banjo-Flower 30 Jul 06 - 08:57 AM
Fortunato 30 Jul 06 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Russ 30 Jul 06 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 30 Jul 06 - 11:30 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 30 Jul 06 - 12:46 PM
Don Firth 30 Jul 06 - 02:12 PM
Murray MacLeod 30 Jul 06 - 04:37 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 30 Jul 06 - 04:39 PM
Scoville 30 Jul 06 - 05:00 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Jul 06 - 08:07 PM
282RA 30 Jul 06 - 08:44 PM
Don Firth 30 Jul 06 - 10:13 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 31 Jul 06 - 12:08 AM
Don Firth 31 Jul 06 - 02:02 AM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Jul 06 - 02:12 AM
Scrump 31 Jul 06 - 08:23 AM
Grab 31 Jul 06 - 11:52 AM
Johnhenry'shammer 31 Jul 06 - 02:34 PM
PoppaGator 31 Jul 06 - 03:02 PM
PoppaGator 31 Jul 06 - 03:06 PM
PoppaGator 31 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM
Scoville 31 Jul 06 - 03:14 PM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Jul 06 - 08:45 PM
Tim theTwangler 01 Aug 06 - 01:07 AM
Doug Chadwick 01 Aug 06 - 02:23 AM
Peter T. 01 Aug 06 - 11:11 AM
Bobert 01 Aug 06 - 12:42 PM
Don Firth 01 Aug 06 - 01:07 PM
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Subject: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 12:06 AM

So I bought my guitar a little over a week ago and I was wondering if all of you fine people could give me some tips on what to do now? I've learned a few songs here and there (Dylan's Man of Constant Sorrow, The Long Black Veil, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, and a few more I think) and I know some chords so what next?


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 12:39 AM

When you get the chord changes to happen smoothly, start working on some bass runs with your left hand. Also you can start experimenting with finger picking or flat picking with you right hand and figure out what your preference is.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Bert
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 03:16 AM

Don't put it away in it's case. Leave it out where you can get to it and pick it up at odd spare moments.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Peace
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 03:41 AM

Practice for a minimum of an hour each day. Three is better.

Do NOT skip any days. That means you practice 365 days a year.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Bert
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 04:24 AM

Good point Peace, and remember, most professionals work at least 8 hours a day at their jobs.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: GUEST,Ian Pittaway
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 05:24 AM

Listen to huge amounts of music, not just guitar music. As you get more proficient, try to sound like bagpipes, accordion, etc. It depends what you want to do. If American style, get that thumb working on the alternating bass or just the downward flick of thumb-on-bass then finger flick. If English, avoid chords: work on just playing the tune or counter melodies with passing notes to harmonise the voice. Try to learn by ear. If you can't do that, learn tablature.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Fortunato
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 11:50 AM

Learn and practice your scales daily. Don't look at your left hand (if playing right handed).

You can't look at and think about chord changes they must be second nature.

To learn the alternating bass mentioned above:

Sit and without looking, start by striking with your thumb pick first the 5th string and then the 6th string while playing the C chord. Do this until you can talk to someone or sing a song without looking or missing a beat.

then add a pinch, 2nd string and 5th string, to replace your 5th string strike. When you can do this will talking or singing without missing a beat, PM me and I'll give you the next step.

Chance


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Greg B
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 03:45 PM

Look up Woodie Guthrie's 'Talkin Guitar' blues.

You're at a point in your career where you can
truly appreciate it!

(Matter of fact the basic talking blues riff
that Woody and Cisco used ain't a bad beginner's
exercise in putting some interest in your playing
rather than just whanging away.)


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 04:40 PM

Don't put it away in it's case. Leave it out where you can get to it and pick it up at odd spare moments.

I totally agree

Practice for a minimum of an hour each day. Three is better.....



Learn and practice your scales daily.........



In my opinion, if you follow these two pieces of advice, it's likely that your guitar will be back in its case within three weeks.

Learn something simple but interesting (even Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is more interesting than scales ) and play it whenever you can – while watching the TV, waiting for dinner to arrive on the table, that last minute before you leave for work. You'll find that you probably average more than an hour a day, just not in one solid, boring, block.

See if you can find someone else to play with. It will drag you past those stumbling blocks that tend to make you give up when things get too difficult. It doen't have to be somoene better than you – think of it as a mutual self-help group.

Above all, make your guitar playing fun otherwise it's not really worth doing.


DC


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: GUEST,noddy
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 05:55 PM

So ,first catch your guitar then kill it, and then skin and gut it it......sorry wrong thread!


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Tweed
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 06:43 PM

Sleep with it laying by your head at night. I dress mine up in Frederick's of Hollywood costumes on weekends.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 07:18 PM

Ricarco Iznaola, director of the conservatory program and chair of the guitar and harp department at Denver University's Lamont School of Music, has written a number of books and manuals for classical guitar, but much of what he says about practice applies to just about any musical instrument. In his little book, On Practice, he suggests that rather than thinking in terms of daily practice, the time-unit of practice should be the week. Set a goal that you want to accomplish that week and decide what you need to work on to accomplish that goal. Then, at the end six days, evaluate your progress, determine if you have accomplished your goal or not, then decide what you need to do the following week. Do you need to work on the same things some more, or can you move on to some new?

He says, "The week should consist of six days only, with a seventh day of rest from practice (although you may play all you want that day!)." In short, all work and no play, and all that. Have some fun with the instrument. Goof around. You can never tell what you might learn in the process.

Very important! Keep your hands relaxed. Most guitarists mash the fingerboard much harder than they need to, and this inhibits the left hand, slowing it down. When fretting the strings, don't use more pressure than you need. Put a left hand finger on a string and press it down very lightly toward the fret (behind the fret, of course). Play the string with the right hand. At first, it shouldn't sound, other than a dull "fump!" Gradually increase the pressure on the string until the note rings clearly. You'll notice that you don't really have to drive the string into the fingerboard. Practicing this a bit will give you a good feel for just how light you can keep your left hand. That'll pay off later in speed and dexterity.

Lots of folks seem to hate scales, but they're what music is made of:   notes, played individually and played together. I think practicing scales is kinda fun. Besides, you'll need 'em for bass runs, picking out melody lines, and such. Arpeggios:   that's playing the notes of chord one at a time. Knowing a handful of arpeggio patterns can come in handy for song accompaniments. There are a few classic guitar technique books that have loads of arpreggio patterns in them, but they're not that hard to invent. Alternating bass finger-picking is actually a mixture of different arpeggio patterns.

Cautionary note:   Early on, I wanted to learn alternating bass finger-picking so badly I could taste it, and when I finally ran into someone who showed me some basic patterns, I practiced them so constantly and intensely that after a week or ten days, I started getting cramps in my right hand and my thumb developed an involuntary twitch. I had to lay off the guitar entirely for several days. Don't overpractice!

Good luck. Have fun!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 09:23 PM

What is this alternating bass thing that everybody keeps talking about? I did what Fortunato told me to do and it didn't really sound like anything...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 10:36 PM

Alternating thumb finger-picking is a bit hard to describe. Easier to show.

Happy Traum has a bunch of guitar lessons out on a pack of DVDs. I sure wish I'd had something like this available when I first started out. I don't have them, but I'm thinking seriously about getting them. I can get around on a guitar pretty well, but there's always more to learn, and I'm sure I could pick up a trick or two from these DVDs.

Anyway, click HERE and scroll down to where it says "See or Hear a Sample of This Lesson," click on whichever link best suits your internet hook-up, and you'll see snippets of Happy Traum's lesson in basic alternating bass finger-picking. It only lasts about two minutes, but it'll give you an idea of what alternating bass finger-picking sounds like, and at least a brief clue as to how it works.

I can't figure out what he means when he says, "Now the thumb shouldn't move," because the whole thing depends on moving the thumb, but then I haven't seen the whole DVD. Toward the end, he plays a snippet of "Green Green Rocky Road" in this style, the after he says "Keep pickin;'" he goes out playing a nice, smooth rendition of "Hobo's Lullabye."

You may not be able to pick up much from this, but maybe enough to get started. Anyway, it illustrates the style.

As Happy Traum says, "Keep pickin.'"

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 10:45 PM

"Who's Happy Traum?" you say. I don't know too much about him, but I heard the name a lot in the early and mid-Sixties, and wondered, "What the heck kind of name is that? Is that what he really has on his birth certificate?" Anyway, he knows his way around a guitar. Here's some info on him:   CLICKY.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Scoville
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 10:59 PM

I've got a Happy Traum blues book. Unfortunately, I suck so badly at reading guitar tab I can't use it, but I've heard good things about him.

Alternating bass is the "oom-pah" bass you get from alternating between two notes on beats (sounds like the typical Johnny Cash beat). Sort of imitates a stand-up bass.

Actually, I get "stuck" sometimes and have to stop practicing whatever it is that's "sticking" for maybe a week, and then come back to it. I think mostly I get frustrated, but a short break often helps.

Find someone else to play with, who knows a bit more than you do.

Learn to use a capo. D and A chords will kill your hand after awhile and don't have good bass notes; capo and play C and G. Also, work on learning to recognize chords when other people play them so you can practice chords in "real time". You'll only get a few of them per song at first but eventually it will sink in and it will help you learn to hear chord changes.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Peace
Date: 29 Jul 06 - 11:05 PM

Re 'alternating bass. Good site here.

http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:wFpnNHCWd58J:www.guitarland.com/Travis.html+travis+picking&hl=en&gl=ca&ct=clnk&cd=1


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 03:23 AM

The human brain lays down physical nerve pathways for motor skills. They even show up when the brain is examined.

But you need about 3 months for this basic growth to occur. After that, the more you work at the practising of the skills, the more instinctive they become, and the stronger the pathways grow.

Actually, since much of this growth (a fat insulating layer around the nerves fibres in the pathways which increases their electrical insulation, and the effectiveness of carrying the electrical signal) is sourced from Omega 3 based fat, you should make sure your diet includes sufficient Omega 3 - a good source is fish oil, or just eat fish a couple of times a week.

~~~~~
As an ex-ASMF Sports Trainer, I can also tell you that the rule for growing muscles in the gym was:
"A day break a week: a week break a month: and a month break a year".

Muscles grow ONLY when resting: the stress of exercise actually causes real physical micro-damage which the body will repair and increase strength and bulk when resting; if no rest period occurs, you get the physical side effects of 'over training' - cramp is then the very least of your worries, merely a mild warning symptom...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 03:54 AM

I watched that clip of Happy Traum and it was amazing! I deffinitely think I'm going to pick up those DVD's because that's exactly the style of guitar I want to play!


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 05:25 AM

Such good advice in this thread! I wish I'd spent more time on scales in the past, 'cos I use them a lot now in runs, but most of all, I wish I'd realised earlier that IT'S ALL IN THE RIGHT HAND! (if you play right-handed, of course). The better I pick (finger-style or plectrum), the better I get. Period.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 05:52 AM

There is a lot of good advice on here,but no one mentioned that you can pay a qualified tutor to get you started and maybe to brush up on your technique at different times as you reach the plateau that seem to come when learnig guitar,and probably any other instrument.
Also I find it much too easy to only pratice new stuff for a very short period then drift of into playing what I already love playing.
This is more fun but doesnt lead to great speed of advancment.
Like the infamous "Anji" is really quite simple but my mind wonders and I end up playing around with whatever new song I am trying to fit the words into or find a chord for Doh!
I have met many people who have been playing for thirty or fourty years and they all seem to say they are still learning.
So have patience and good luck.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: van lingle
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 07:04 AM

I second the Happy Traum material for learning. I learned fingerstyle from his first two books that were published in the sixties and I'm still learning from them.
A technique I learned from a Christopher Parkening interview some time ago has been very helpful to me. He calls it burnishing and what it entails is practising very slowly and exerting a lot of pressure(i.e. clamping down harder) with your left hand while you do so. This has helped me remember hand and chord positions and will also strengthen your left hand. Of course, use this judiciously and don't over do it.
Exploring the Fingerboard by Russ Barenberg which is available from Homespun is an excellent introduction to learning scales and modes and how they apply to melodies. Good luck, vl


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 08:57 AM

Trade it in for a tenor banjo

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Fortunato
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 10:59 AM

On the alternating bass.
"didn't sound like much"

No it's not meant to be the full sound, simply the root. Imagine you had a standup bass player accompanying you. He might play the root notes of the chord you're in. C and G, for C chord, for example.

thats what you're doing with the alternating bass. in order to travis pick this root must be in place before the rest of the form can be effectively played. if you have recordings of Merle travis or Chet atkins or Doc Watson when he's finger picking, listen for the alternating bass.

chance


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 11:06 AM

Lots of good advice in this thread.

I never practice. Practice is work. But I do play every day. Playing is fun.

A personal question.
When I read your original post I had to double check the date. Why, in 2006, are you learning some of the same songs I started with forty five odd years ago?

Russ (Occasionally impudent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 11:30 AM

I would assume that the goal is to accompany yourself singing. This is a special way of playing and can only be accomplished by having practice doing both.

If this is your goal, learn by playing simple chords as accompaniment to your singing. Forget about scales and isolated techniques. Eventually develop accompaniment patterns with the right hand using fingers or pick.

If you want to branch out later and play guitar as a solo instrument,the effort you put in on playing simply and singing will help your musicianship.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 12:46 PM

Alternating bass is an important technique for playing rhythm guitar with a flatpick too, not just for fingerpicking. Just strumming chords can be boring and monotonous. Pluck the note on, say, string 6, strum the chord, pick the note on string 5, strum the chord etc.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 02:12 PM

Frank Hamilton makes several very good points. But who is Frank Hamilton, you ask? Well, THIS sort of answers the question. I'd say he knows what he's talking about and I'd heed anything he has to say about folk guitar.

Basic, simple song accompaniment is the place to start. To me, that's the nucleus of the whole thing. A good, straightforward "Burl Ives basic" smoothly played is always appropriate, whereas I've heard a lot of fine songs completely buried under razzle-dazzle guitar work. If singing is what you're about, learn to do simple, straightforward accompaniments first. Then pick up the embellishments.

I worked one summer for a picture framer who did a lot of work for famous artists and for major galleries in the area. He said, "A good frame should reflect elements in the painting itself, such as the shape and the color of the molding. It should set the painting off in space, but it should not draw attention to itself. If people look at a painting and all they can say is, 'Isn't that a great frame?' then, no, it isn't. It's failed its purpose"

I think the same principle applies to a good song accompaniment. If you notice the accompaniment more than the song, then it hasn't done what it's supposed to do:   accompany the song.

Uh . . . I'm afraid I can't agree with Rusty Dobro that it's all in the right hand. Of course this is a somewhat different style of guitar playing, but it gives an idea of just how useful a fairly nimble left hand can be. Clicky #1.

Of course, this is not to say that the right hand can't be pretty important too. Clicky #2. Believe it or not, I used to be able to play that. Still can, sort of.

The lady is a pretty fair picker. (I think I'm in love. . . .).

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 04:37 PM

If you thought the Happy Traum clip was inspirational, just wait until you watch THIS


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 04:39 PM

If you guys consider just playing chords as simple accompinament then that's exactly what I've been doing. I've never had any trouble singing over my guitar so far. I just hope to be able to play in that finger picking style while singing and maybe even while playing harmonica.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Scoville
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 05:00 PM

Russ, I started learning in 1993 by playing Woody Guthrie songs (thank goodness he wasn't a virtuoso guitarist!). Good songs are good songs, and it's much easier to focus on learning the chords if you aren't trying to learn the song at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 08:07 PM

"I just hope to be able to play in that finger picking style while singing"

That's very useful for instrumental breaks....

" maybe even while playing harmonica. "

... well, you ain't singing then, unless you normally got your bowels crossed...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: 282RA
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 08:44 PM

>>So I bought my guitar a little over a week ago and I was wondering if all of you fine people could give me some tips on what to do now?<<

If you have to ask...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Jul 06 - 10:13 PM

As 282RA points out. The assumption is that you've only been playing for about a week, in which case it's extremely doubtful that you're anywhere near adept at even basic first position chords. Most people who've only been playing a week have generally reached the point where they're doing darn well if they can manage fairly smooth, and in tempo, changes between C, F, and G7, or any other two or three chord set. And also, they're still wincing a bit because they haven't been playing long enough to build up the necessary calluses on their left-hand fingers. If the assumption was wrong and you've been playing for longer than that and you're just saying you've had your new guitar for about a week, it would have helped to know that.

How long have you been playing? Describe what you can do. What chords can you play? What sort of things do you do with your right hand? Just thumb-strum? Use your fingers individually and together? If we have some idea of what you can already do, it'll be easier to suggest good ways to go from here.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 12:08 AM

Alright Don. I've been playing guitar for I guess about 2 weeks now. I have actually developed calluses on my left fingers already so fretting is no longer painful. I know how to play C, D, E, A, G, A7, B7, D7, Em, Am, and I think that's all I've learned. I've never tried to do anything with my fingers because I wouldn't know what to do with them and that's one of the reasons I started this thread. I really want to learn the fingerstyle. Right now I'm teaching myself out of a book but I hope to take lessons soon. I think the song that I can play well with the most chords in it has 4. By the way, thanks for all the help so far folks.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 02:02 AM

Thanks for the info, Hammer. I'm going to be tied up for most of Monday, but when I get back, I'll have some suggestions for right hand techniques for you to try. In the meantime, I'm sure other folks will also have things to offer.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 02:12 AM

... in the meantime, just do what comes naturally with your right hand...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Scrump
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 08:23 AM

I don't think we can really advise you on 'what to do next'. At least you've listed a few songs you've played so we have some idea of the type of music you like, but we don't know what style of guitar playing you aspire to. Are there any players you admire and would like to be able to play like? If we knew that, it would be a better point to start from.

My advice would be to go out and see as many good players as you can, or go to sessions and watch how others play, and if you see any you like, watch how they play, and if possible ask them how they do certain things. Most musos are friendly and would be happy to help.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Grab
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 11:52 AM

"Know what fingers go where" and "be able to change between those chords smoothly" are two different things.

Best advice - get a metronome. Then play the chords to your song exactly on the metronome's beat. You'll hate its guts within about 10 seconds, but it works. Not only does it tighten up your right-hand strumming, but it also ensures that you know exactly how long the left-hand changes take. Someone once said that all beginners play in 5/4 time - "strum strum strum strum *change chord* strum strum strum strum *change chord*" - and there's an element of truth in that, because often you don't realise yourself how long the changes are taking.

I have to say that if you can play all those chords smoothly and change between them smoothly after only 2 weeks, you can consider yourself a guitar genius. Seriously. For most people, getting all those chords down to a reasonable level is a good 2-3 months work for most people. I guess it comes down to what you call "being able to play them" - my definition would be a solid 4-strums-to-a-bar at the speed of, say, "Yellow Submarine" (for a song that everyone knows).

Book-wise, if you can get the Russ Shipton series then they'd be a good bet for you. They're very much fingerstyle-centric, and they worked well for me.

For another thing, I'd suggest getting a plectrum and at least trying plectrum stuff. It's a whole different skill, and you might like it. The essential skill with a plectrum is trying to keep the plectrum at 90 degrees to the string, instead of letting it float backwards and forwards as you strum - if you can control that, then you can control your tone.

You say you're going to go looking for a guitar teacher soon. If you do, don't go more often than once every 2 weeks. What you want is not so much someone to tell you what to do every step of the way, as someone to watch you doing what you've learned and then nailing bad habits before they get established.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 02:34 PM

Grab, I've tried some stuff with a pick (Dylan's arr. of Man of Constant Sorrow kind of needs a pick to be played well) but I much prefer using my thumb. That also makes it easier to strum selectively.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 03:02 PM

Equal time: After several mentions of Happy Traum, let me also recommend Stephan Grossman. Both of these guys have been publishing fingerpicking lessons since the mid-sixties, first in print-only tablature form, then expanding to audio tapes and, most recently, DVDs. Grossman's operation is more extensive than Traum's, I believe, and both are about equally helpful.

There have been plenty of threads on tips for guitar beginners ~ this request pops up periodically. I have had plenty to say on this topic on many occasions in the past, but have more-or-less run out of the energy to continue responding with the same stuff repeatedly. The last time I saw one of these threads appear, I looked up the previous thread, which included links to many previous Mudcat discussions on the topic as well as to outside resources like Happy's and Stephen's websites, and provided a link in the new thread. Lemme try to do that again...

By the way, thanks for that link to the fingerpicking video ~ but is it helpful and inspirational, or just plain intimidating? It's too grainy to see exactly where the fingers are being placed, and even if it were flawlessly high-def, I doubt that any beginnner could learn much from it ~ too complicated! I did take note of the guy's Ovation guitar; I wonder if any of the guitar snobs looking in on this thread have anything to say about that!


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 03:06 PM

Here's a link to the "My Developing Guitar Skills" thread ~ specifically, to my final posting at the very bottom of the thread, which provides a couple of pertinent links to earlier discussions.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 03:12 PM

One more link ~ thread.cfm?threadid=82280 ~ you'll find this eventually if you start from the link I just provided above, and dig beyond it. But for those not inclined to search diligently, this'll take you immediately to several direct links to earlier discussions of guitar techniques for beginnners.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Scoville
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 03:14 PM

Heh heh--I'm a pick devotee, myself. Thumb-pick at first and now flat, but you're right that it's probably easier to start out with just a naked thumb until you get the feel for the strings.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Jul 06 - 08:45 PM

"Someone once said that all beginners play in 5/4 time"

That's just for Folk Guitarists - other musos have far more random time signatures than that - ask any Piano Teacher!

The Evil Metronome is actually Your Best Friend!


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 01:07 AM

Any one tried those Alaske picks out the look a bit odd. Cna you strum up and down ok with them?


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 02:23 AM

They're as much use as a chocolate fireguard, Tim. If you have nails good enough to keep them in place then you don't need them.

DC


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 11:11 AM

Figure out the I, IV, V structure of most songs, and the minors in each key.   You can learn lots of chords, but unless you figure out where they go, it is not very useful.

Take a look at the chords, and figure out what the notes are in them, and then check out the strings!! You will find out that they make up the chords! (This is actually something that many people don't learn, they just keep making TAB shapes, and never get any further than that).

One big step beyond chords is bar chords. This is your first step in climbing up the guitar neck so you don't spend your life at the bottom. See that F chord that is driving you crazy. Move it up two frets and it is a G chord!! and so on. See that E chord? Move it up one fret, and bar the first fret with your first finger, and keep the same E chord shape by moving around your other fingers, and by God it is your F chord!!   (It took me two years to see that the F chord was the E chord up one fret!). AND YOU CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THIS WITH VIRTUALLY ALL THE CHORDS YOU USE AT THE BOTTOM!



yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Bobert
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 12:42 PM

Split yer practice time between struming and finger-pickin' and when you do yer strumin' try to get in a little back strum where after the pick goes down it catches stuff on the way back up... Experiement with that... Also, once you have all yer basic chords down where the thinkin' part goes away, it will be time to augmnet them by selectively removing one finger of a string and then back... Again, experiement... Also addin' a string... Like makin' a D chord then using yer pinky to cover the 1st string on the 3rd fret and then movin' it up to the 5th fret...

Oh yeah, yer pinky.. The pinky is very important... Try to learn to make as many chords as possible leavin' it free... You'll be needin' it soon and if yer makin' 1st position chords with it, other than like B7th or F then you may find yerself having to tell yer fingers to unlearn stuff... Surprised no one has brought than one up...

Good luck...

...and stay with it...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 01:07 PM

Excellent point about the left-hand pinky, Bobert!

And speaking of pinkies, lots of folkies do it, but do not rest your right-hand pinky on the soundboard of the guitar. There are very good reasons why one should not, not the least of which is that the right hand should be free, not anchored to the top of the guitar. All the support the hand needs is your forearm resting on the upper edge of the guitar. Among other things, anchoring the pinky makes it much more difficult to use the ring finger, and for what I describe in the following paragraphs, we do want to be able to use it.

So far, we've managed to link to a lot of websites that show some pretty flashy git-pickin', but someplace along the line we seem to have neglected a few basics—basics that can a) get one going right away, and b) lead fairly directly to the more impressive stuff.

Basic accompaniment, plucking the strings with the fingers rather than strumming (techniques that can be morphed easily into alternating bass finger-picking):

Pick a chord, any chord. Say, a C. Rest the right forearm on the edge of the guitar with the right hand hovering over the strings just above the sound hole, or a bit toward the bridge side of the sound hole. [To get a clear idea of the optimum right hand position, take another look at the videos I linked to above, Happy Traum and Sharon Isbin).] Keep the wrist fairly straight. Make a fist. Point your thumb to the left, toward the fingerboard. Now, relax and open the fingers, but still keep them curved. Rest the thumb (p for "pulgar") on the 5th string, and deploy the fingers so that the index finger (i) is on the 3rd string, the middle finger (m) is on the 2nd string, and the ring or annular finger (a) is on the 1st string. [Remember the designations I'm using for right-hand thumb and fingers, p, i, m, and a, because I will use them later as a sort of shorthand for talking about arpeggios and alternating bass patterns, and it will save me a lot of typing.]

Play the 5th string with the thumb (p). Now, moving all three fingers (i, m, and a) as a unit, play the top three strings together. Do it again. And again. Do it a whole bunch of times, until you get the feel of it and can do it smoothly and in tempo ("One-two, one two," etc.).

Now, do it again, but this time, play the 5th string followed by the fingers, but then, play the 4th string followed by the fingers. Keep playing going, alternate that the bass string. 5th, (fingers), 4th (fingers), 5th, (fingers), 4th (fingers) . . . .

That's a basic 2-beat or 4-beat pattern, depending on how you want to count it:   "one-two, one-two" or "one-two-three-four." Good for any song in 2/4 or 4/4 time.

Now try this:   do the exact same thing, only do the fingers twice each time, like this: Thumb plays 5th (fingers fingers), 4th (fingers fingers), and so on.

"One-two-three, one-two-three." That's a basic 3-beat pattern, commonly known as "waltz time."

Next step. As you play a two-beat or a three beat right pattern on a C chord, change to another chord, say a G7. Play the 6th string with the thumb (followed by the fingers of course) then the 4th string with the thumb (then fingers), then the 5th string with the thumb—and so on. Alternating the bass string that your thumb plays. Okay?

Try playing various chords you know this way, alternating whatever bass strings are available within that chord. Keep the right hand pattern going in an even tempo and change chords every few beats.

Burl Ives (with the possible exception of Pete Seeger and The Weavers), the first folk singer that most of my geezer generation ever heard of, made a substantial career for himself, radio, concert tours, clubs, records, and a couple of movies where he played a character very much like himself, by doing little else on the guitar than what I've just described above. That's why simple accompaniment patterns like that are often referred to as "Burl Ives basic." Depending on the song, sometimes that's all you want to do. Sure, it isn't fancy, but when I was teaching folk guitar classes (ten week courses) back in the Sixties, I sent people home at the end of the first evening able to accompany two or three songs with "Burl Ives basic." At the end of ten weeks, they knew all the first position chords and a whole handful of right-hand accompaniment patterns, including a couple of alternating bass patterns.

You'll note that even with Burl Ives basic, you are alternating the bass notes. To move from that into picking out melody lines with the fingers is not that big a step. While bouncing back and forth between bass strings, there are all kinds of wild and crazy things you can do with your fingers.

More later.

Don Firth


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