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Learning to play guitar

28 May 99 - 05:03 PM (#82472)
Subject: Learning to play guitar
From: Roger in Baltimore

Annap on another thread asked for good music for a beginnin guitarists.

It seemed to me to be a great subject for a thread (I did not do a forum search to see if it has been done before).

I only know how I learned, so I will pass that on.

My first teaching device was Alan Lomax's Folk Songs of North America. In addition to being a wonderful resource of folk music it has an appendix that describes some basic forms of guitar picking. (It also does it for banjo, but who wants to learn banjo?) Each song in the book is labelled with the chords and the suggested guitar picking styles for that song. I was familiar with many of the songs, and I picked up a lot of technique this way.

The appendix also teaches you how to transpose chords from one key to another. That was a major blessing for a baritone like myself.

I frequently amazed my peers (who were also just learning) with techniques I learned from Lomax's book. The next teaching device was Jerry Silverman's Folksingers Guitar Guide. The techniques I learned from Lomax were expanded here. It was my first introduction to guitar tablature. The songs are fairly well-known and the tabs are relative uncomplicated. It was here that I learned about bass runs and they remain a backbone of my guitar work today.

I have taken guitar lessons three times. Twice they did it feel they were worth the expense. I did take a group lesson once and I felt I learned nearly as much as I would have learned in an individual lesson.

Anything I watch a friend play that I don't understand, I ask about. Even after years of guitar playing, I have found that even a new guitarist can often teach me something because they have different interests than mine.

In the past few years, I have bought video tapes by Happy Traum, Steve Ainslie, and Roy Book Binder. All three were helpful to me, but they all required that I have some basic skills. Happy Traum has some tapes for basic skills, and based on my experience with his later tapes I suspect they are good also.

I have occasionally learned licks off of records. My first serious success was "Poor Man" on Tom Rush's first Elektra album. I have never been too good at it. Catspaw and LEJ will be happy to know that I do a pretty good rendition of "The Needle and the Damage Done" by Neil Young. Hey, how depressing can you get? I suppose Reg, Reg, and Reg or perhaps Cletus will be journeying to Maryland to take me back to the NYCTS (Neil Young Center for the Terminally Screwed).

Come on in Mudcatter's, the water is fine. Maybe Banjer will start a banjer thread and perhaps Catspaw will have one on playing the Tiple. And Bill D. or Rick can do one on the Autoharp and Ferrara can explain that old Mac Arthur's harp. And maybe Barbara can include her instructions on how to play a 'possum butt. Then the tin whistle, and the bohdran, and the pipes. Ah, the possibilities are endless. Pretty soon Max'll have to buy a new server.

Big RiB

28 May 99 - 06:39 PM (#82494)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Lowcountry

A good thing to do if you're really a rank beginner is to learn the basics on a four-stringed instrument like a baritone ukelele. Graduating to the six string guitar is quite natural and logical. That's how most of my friends learned way, I say WAY, back when.

28 May 99 - 08:51 PM (#82517)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Mark Clark

I first learned to play much the way RiB describes, including the Lomax "Black Book" as we called it. The Carter Family scratch was wonderful not the least because I love/d Carter Family songs. Pete Seeger's "Folksinger's Guitar Guide" on Folkways was another one. The public library had it and I kept it checked out all the time. Then my brother and some friends and I used to spend long hours listening to recordings of Rev. Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee, Etta Baker, Elizabeth Cotton and a whole bunch of other people until we could figure out more or less what they were doing.

The biggest help early on was probably hootenanys. Keep in mind that it was 1959-60. A whole bunch of us used to gather at private homes each week and sing and play up every song we knew long into the night. It was constantly playing with other people and being challenged to learn new songs for the next "hoot" that really kept us going. We just sat on the floor and no matter who called the tune, everyone sang and played along. I don't think there are opportunities like that today. People in jam sessions now (probably including myself) are not as tolerant of beginners as we were back then. Most people want to make more polished music now and expect people to be able to keep time and tune their instruments and stuff.

I have successfully taught the (very) occasional eager student to play (free of charge) but no one has enough money to get me to teach the casual or lazy student. One of the things I have done with students is to pick up a banjo or fiddle and insist that the student accompany me in proper time. Playing with others just can't be over emphasized, IMHO. Besides, musicians are usually good company.

- Mark

28 May 99 - 09:20 PM (#82521)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: catspaw49


I came along about 5 years later and I think we learned in much the same way. And you're right about playing no matter how badly with others. Karen has been trying for years, but recently she agreed to try it my way and her progress was remarkable to her, and a lot of it came through forcing her to sing along and play along with me.

RiB you too are on the money. I also spent hours just watching and trying to imitate what someone else was doing. Often I couldn't, but what I could do evolved into a style too.


28 May 99 - 10:17 PM (#82534)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: bet

Big RiB, Thanks for the book tips. I bought a guitar, very cheap, a few months ago and haven't done anything with it, but was thinkg that summers is here and now I have some time. Of course, kat can't wait till I try the mandolin. I do play the violin and plat at the baritone uke. maybe I shound decide what I want to play and quite messing around. Anyway, thanks for the book suggestions. bet

28 May 99 - 11:19 PM (#82558)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: campfire

THre WAS a thread on this not too long ago - I'll say the same thing I said then (not that I'm anybody special or anything, but IMHO...) PLAY PLAY PLAY. By yourself, for the dog, because the cat can curl up in your case when the guitar isn't in it, because your sad, because your happy, because it beats the heck out of doing the dishes, whatever reason makes ou PICK UP THE GUITAR AND PLAY IT. Playing with other people is even better - I learned more that way than from any of the classes I took.

The above-mentioned books or several others can give you the "basics" - how to make a "G" chord and what-not, but only by PLAYING can you develop your own style and a level of comfort with the instrument. Playing with others (start with people that like you, regardless....)will help you develop timing and teach you to follow (and they'll let you know if "your own style" is or isn't working). Play stuff you like, at least to begin with - it'll keep you going. I took a cless once where the teacher was into jazz (I'm not, really) I didn't LIKE my "assignments", so I didn't put the effort into it that my parents were paying for(We are talking quite a while ago, here) Later, play stuff that makes you "stretch" a bit. Have fun.

Now, if I were only to DO the above more, instead of talking about it...


28 May 99 - 11:41 PM (#82566)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: bseed(charleskratz)

One of the greatest innovations in guitar instruction (or any musical instruction, I suppose) is the lesson book accompanied by CD: There's a basic one out I think called "Finger Style Blues Guitar," and several more advanced ones--Tony Rice has a bluegrass guitar lesson book/CD out and I have a couple of my students working from that. Jam Trax has a good one out for fiddle tunes on guitar and banjo (and, of course, performer CDs are great to play along (I'm working on imitating some of Art Thieme's clawhammer banjo playing on his CD and I also try playing along with Doc Watson and others [David Grissman's "Common Chord" is another favorite]). (Oh, if anyone would like the keys for the songs on "Doc Watson on Stage" or "Common Chord," lemme know and I'll post them.) --seed

29 May 99 - 08:10 AM (#82609)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au

I learned from the same authors as Roger, but different books! I used "Amereican Folk Guitar" by Alan Lomax and Peggy Seeger and "Folk Guitar Method Book" by Jerry Silverman. As soon as I got some chords down, I started on Stefan Grossman's "Play Country Blues" which I found too hard so I downgraded to his "Essential Fingerpicking Guitar" lessons. They are just right for someone who can find the chords and wants to start fingerpicking. The lessons consist of relatively simple arrangements each with one or two harder licks which are idomatic to one of the great blues players.

I made good progress with that and graduated to the "Play Country Blues" and "The Guitar of Mississippi John Hurt"

Although I know my way around the guitar now, I feel clumsy. Sometimes I hit one string while playing another and things like that so I have been taking some lessons in classical guitar. I feel more comfortable already. Classical music sounds pretty good on a steel-string.

I would like to get better at learning licks and chord progressions by ear. So far the only thing I have done about it is to experiment with records. I did manage to get some half-way decent accompanyments to a few Hedy West tunes by listening to her banjo playing; but I am not ready to transcribe Rev. Gary Davis.

Sydney is rich in Folk Clubs. Due to my own and my wife's health problems, I haven't been able to get to them so I don't have the experience of playing with others I would like, although I do play with a friend once in a while. That really does speed up my learning. I don't know why, but I have noticed it with other instruments too.


29 May 99 - 08:15 AM (#82610)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Roger in Baltimore


I don't know much about your health problems, but an alternative you might consider is to have a song circle at your house once a month. Then you could get much exposure to other people's music and would not have to travel.

Just a thought.

Roger in Baltimore

29 May 99 - 10:30 AM (#82629)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Peter T.

BSeed - do you have the chords/music/TAB or anything for Doc Watson's version of Alberta? (I am thinking particularly of the opening, which is not on the usual sheet music versions, which just start "Alberta what's on your mind..." ? Yours, Peter T.

29 May 99 - 11:05 AM (#82640)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: BeesWIng

Hi Peter T.... I might be able to help you out there. A complete version of Alberta, recorded by Roger McGuinn(of the Byrds fame) is at the following address.http://bubblegum.uark.edu/folkden/index.html Check the index for the song! An excellent choice by the way. This site is a Godsend for folks like myself who play mostly by ear...*smiling at ya!* PS.. I too, agree that playing with others is by far the most effecient, and pleasurable way to learn...Yesterday, I bumped into a friend who asked if I was giving guitar lessons( ha! Me?) I said , "No, but I would absolutely LOVE it if you were to come over to my place with your guitar so we could play together!" I look forward to her visit... And Roger in Baltimore... I plan on learning the BANJO one of these days!!

29 May 99 - 01:50 PM (#82656)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Mark Clark


Yes, watching accomplished musicians closely is also of great value. I left home for Chicago in the winter of '62-'63 and one of the accomplished performers I quickly learned to watch was Art Thieme. Used to catch him at the old Rising Moon on Pearson.

Bob Koester used to host a blues concert/jam in a basement place on North State St. He would have Sleepy John Estes, Yank Rachel, Sunnyland Slim, Big Joe Williams, Hammie Nixon, with other greats dropping in occasionaly. We would sit on folding chairs right in the front row about six feet from the performers and try to catch what they were doing. As often as not, they guy next to me was a very young Mike Bloomfield (RIP).

The annual folk festival at the University of Chicago was also a wonderful place to learn. All the booked acts would conduct free workshops in Ida Noyes hall on Saturday morning. Not only could you see what they were doing but they were always glad to give you a personal lesson right on the spot.

I sure miss Chicago.

- Mark

29 May 99 - 07:48 PM (#82723)
Subject: Lyr/Chords Add: ALBERTA (from Doc Watson)
From: bseed(charleskratz)

Peter T.--You just happened to have hit on a song that I had written out the chords to (to try to get the Once Borns to play songs with more than three chords). I wasn't actually listening to Doc as I worked out the chords for myself and these may be slightly different than what he plays, but they work well for me--beautifully on the banjo).


ALBERTA (Let your Hair Hang Low)
Doc Watson version, from The Essential Doc Watson

G Em G Em

G F G Em
Alberta, Let your hair hang low.

G Bm Am G
I saw her first on an April morn
Bm Am D7
As she walked through the mist in a field of hay.
G Gm C G
Her hair lit the world with its golden glow
Bm D7 G Em G
And the smile on her face burned my heart away.

D7 G
Alberta, let your hair hang low,
F Am D7
Alberta, let your hair hang low,
C G Bm Em
Išll give you more gold than your apron can hold
G D7 G Em G
If you only let your hair hang low.

I thought my golden time would last
But the field of hay was soon cut down.
In a short few weeks it all was past,
And my golden girl just a painful song.

Alberta, what's on your mind?
Alberta, what's on your mind?
My heart is so sad 'cause you treat me so bad.
Alberta, what's on your mind?

Alberta, let your hair hang low.

I hope this works: sometimes my entering chords works, sometimes it doesn't. --seed

29 May 99 - 07:59 PM (#82725)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: bseed(charleskratz)

I can't get that chorus to come out right, so I'll try it another way:

(G)Alberta, let your (D7)hair hang (G)low,
Alberta, let your (F)hair (Am)hang (D7)low,
I'll (C)give you more (G)gold than your (Bm)apron can (Em)hold,
If you'll (G)only let your (D7)hair hang (G)low.

I hope this is clear. --seed

29 May 99 - 10:55 PM (#82786)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au

Thanks Roger. The health problems were in the past. The major malady I suffer from now is inertia. My main interest has been in old time American music--both black and white. This is not an interest shared by many here. I am now becoming aware of Australian bush music and I think it has a lot of possibilities for a guitar fingerpicker. In the groups I have heard, the guitar has more of a rythm role. I plan to get out to one of the clubs and start getting familiar with good acoustic Australian bush music.

I would also like to get more familiar with the Australian/Celtic style of harmonica playing.

Mark, I suspect what you miss is Chicago of the 60s. I don't know where you are now; but you are separated from it by time-space.


30 May 99 - 04:26 AM (#82829)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Garry of Australia

The problem with most of these replies is that they advocate books etc. or teach yourself, this leads to bad technique and errors in your technique which you pay for later when need to improve but can't get over a problem because you don't know how or worse still something you learnt previously stops you from progressing unto another level because it is a bad technique. The best way to learn is from a qualified teacher with a recognised syllabus

30 May 99 - 08:16 AM (#82854)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Roger in Baltimore

Nah, Garry, I don't buy it. Too many successful self-taught folks out there. Individual instruction is certainly a successful way to learn, but its cost is often beyond what many can afford.

If you aspire to be an accomplished guitarist then investing in individual instruction would be the way to go. I suspect that Annap (who inspired this thread) and others just want to have fun with the instrument.

I've taken private lessons and have never been "corrected" so I must have learned something right.

Big RiB

30 May 99 - 12:18 PM (#82871)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: okscout

Well, I went searching for that book, Folk Songs of North America by Alan Lomax. Did you know that it is out-of-print and worth at the least $40. I did learn something about Alan Lomax. Maybe I'll check the library.


30 May 99 - 12:56 PM (#82879)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Roger in Baltimore

Oh, Nancy,

That makes me so sad. I hope your library has it. I will treasure my tattered copy even more.

Big RiB

30 May 99 - 04:53 PM (#82895)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: steve goodbar

I got a book when I was about 15 or so from a high school music teacher. It was called "The Joy of Guitar" It's got some great standard folk songs and I think it's still around. Also I got a chord chart that was arranged by key. Even though I really did'nt understand it, just trying to play the chords was a big help. Pretty soon I was playing along with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Kingston Trio records as well as jamming with friends. It's all there but ya gotta really want it. And it helps to want it every day for at least an hour or two, that's the important thing.

31 May 99 - 12:17 AM (#82961)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Mark Clark

Thanks Murray but I don't miss the '60s, just Chicago. I miss it because there's always a whole new thing taking hold. I miss all the great musicians I've never even heard about, let alone heard. That's what was great then and that's still what matters. Life should be about discovery, not repition.

It's possible I miss my daughters, grand daughters, and well-loved friends who live in Chicago just a little as well.

- Mark

31 May 99 - 12:28 PM (#83024)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Steve Latimer

I have mentioned Murphy Henry on other threads. She has a series of video tapes aimed at beginners. She started out with 5 string banjo tapes and the demand was so great that she has expdanded her offerings to include Guitar, Fiddle, Bass, Mandolin and some variations on these instruments. I learned to play the five string with these tapes and would highly recommend her method. You will be playing music in no time. I'm not a blue clicky thing kinda guy, but she has a site at www.murphymethod.com.

Check it out. Good Luck.

31 May 99 - 09:41 PM (#83090)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: katlaughing

RiB: I was glad to see Roy BookBinder mentioned here. It's the first time I've seen him mentioned on the Mudcat, since I started here in late Dec.

I had the pleasure of seeing him perform back in Westerly, RI in 1988 or so. It was a wonderful evening and I really enjoyed his tunes.


01 Jun 99 - 06:14 AM (#83172)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Garry of Australia

I disagree Roger, I have seen too many self instructed folk guitarist here in Australia and overseas and I can say without a doubt that most of them are pitiful players, you will get one who has a flash of brillance who works out all the correct techniques (for eg to stem arthritus) but generally the playing technique is below par. This opinion you will find is shared by most classically trained musicians, because they have been taught the correct way

01 Jun 99 - 09:56 AM (#83205)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: o'hanrahan

Garry, I suppose it might depend on one's reasons for playing. I have no intention performing at a world class level but rather use the guitar to spice up parties, camp programs and, as most of us probably do, play for myself the lion's share of the time. I have played near 35 years and although i have never had a lesson I am quite happy with all the guitar has given me. It all started when my sistr got a guitar for Christmas and never touched it. I had Jerry Silverman's "Folksinger Guitar Guide" and have kept at it ever since. I continually try to improve through watching and listening to others and have dabbled with a couple of videos. The most important growth as a player came from noodling around with records, trying to figure out what was going on. Folks who ask for chords to simple songs could perhaps be better off working it out on their own. My guess is that most folks at the Mudcat are happy with a folky self taught style. Heck you can even play in bands and get paid on occaison...it can't get better than that for me.

01 Jun 99 - 01:29 PM (#83247)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: annamill

Wow! I just found this thread. I've been away from my desk since last Thursday, so I haven't been able to read. I'm on my way out right now to "Borders" to find Jerry Silvermans "Folksingers Guitar Guide". I hope I can learn something wonderful by July 17th. Thank you all. Say, it doesn't have "truckin'" does it?

As for the dispute between self-learning or instruction, maybe we should take a look at some of the stuff coming out of the mountains of Virginy, or Loosiana ;-) Of course a lot of that was handed-down learnin'. Would that be considered instruction?

be back soon. annap

01 Jun 99 - 03:36 PM (#83276)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Fadac

Annap, You bet! Instruction from a parent I would say counts as instruction.

The nice thing about guitar is that you can learn a few chords, and make music very quickly. Even if it's just chord and strum, and sing along a bit, one can "get going" quickly on a guitar.

A little instruction here and there, could make one a much better player. Or at least playing with some others in a small group. Even that could be considered instruction. That is one of my downfalls, I end up playing by my self too much. So when I try and play with others, my timing is all shot to pieces.

However, I play a concertina (poorly) I have never had any formal music in school, and there was no music in my house when I was growing up. So I started, on my own, at age 44. Started with a penny wistle.

Open book to music and open a book with a finger pattern. Tweet, look at book for next note, move fingers according to chart, Tweet, repeat. Dumb, but it works.

I did get a few lessons then, but my teacher moved to Boston. Now I'm taking lessons on the accordion and am loving every minute of it. However, I don't think I'd be able to "perform" for at least a year. Perhaps three years of study, so the instrument isn't for someone that is looking for a quick and easy instrument to play. Oh, I started with the concertina, because I could take it with me on my sailboat. I also took it with me to Antartica. There would have been no room to take a guitar, so that's why I went that way. But that's me. I do enjoy guitar music, and someday wish to learn one, but I have too much on my plate to deal with another instrument right now.

Fadac (The squeezer)

02 Jun 99 - 08:13 AM (#83412)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au

There was a long thread on the rec.music.makers.guitar.acoustic some time ago which dealt with how "world class" guitarists (Segovia, Bream, Williams, etc.) were able to deal with other types of music. The conclusion was: not that good. The example that sticks in my mind is where Williams put a sponge under the strings near the bridge to get the effect blues players get by muting the strings with the palm of their hand. Now Garry, I am sure his teachers had curricula comming falling out of their pockets; but was he taught to do things properly?

I remember many years ago, my wife played (violin) in a symphony orchestra. During one concert I sat next to the mother of one of the clarinet players and I said that I had seen Benny Goodman play with the Philadelphia Orchestra once and really liked his playing. She said she had heard a record by him and thought he just didn't have the technique. When I told her that he had received classical training, she reconsidered.


02 Jun 99 - 11:42 PM (#83574)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: woody

annap; You won't find it in "Folksinger's Guitar Guide" but if you pick up "The Complete Blues And Ragtime Guitar Player" by Russ Shipton, Wise Publications , the tab, notation and lyrics to Donovan's arrangement of Keep On Truckin' Mama can be found on pg 39. Good luck, woody

03 Jun 99 - 10:04 AM (#83665)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: annamill

Hello everyone,

I couldn't find Jerry Silvermans folksingers guide, all they had was his blues guide. Back I go now to find Russ Shiptons book. Thank you so much Woody.


03 Jun 99 - 12:33 PM (#83705)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Roger in Baltimore


This is getting depressing! Amazon.com says the "Folksinger's Guitar Guide" is out-of-print. They will make a used book search for you Annap.

Damn! This is the second book I've recommended that is out-of-print. Does this mean I will soon be "out-of-print"? Kinda spooky!

Big RiB

03 Jun 99 - 12:48 PM (#83708)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: catspaw49

This calssically trained versus self taught bit is depressing to me and pretty much goes hand in hand with brand snobbery. Formal training and instruction is great, but much of this debate centers on what you want ot play, plus how and why. But to say that "formally" trained guitarists are far better eliminates ALL the contributions in style and technoque contributed by a list of blues, folk, rock, and country guitarists a mile long.


03 Jun 99 - 12:55 PM (#83709)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: catspaw49

Obviously that second word should be classically. Gotta' proof read .......Sorry.

BTW......Does anyone else remember a PBS show done by Laura Weber (I think) on learning to play guitar? It was the mid-sixties sometime. I remember she used Phil Ochs "Freedom Calling" as a theme.


04 Jun 99 - 05:58 AM (#83908)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: o'hanrahan

Catspaw, I do remember a PBS guitar instruction show hosted by a woman but I can't recall her name, nor does Laura Webber ring a bell. I think i learned the 'Rhombus strum' on this show. I also recall a PBS show called "Students of Segovia" where the student would play a remarkable piece and Segovia would say 'no, no, no...play it like this. It seemed identical to me. And then there was Pete Seeger's show but i can't recall the name. Maybe Rainbow something or other.

04 Jun 99 - 07:50 AM (#83927)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au

Seeger's show was called "Rainbow Quest". You can get videos of these programs at http://www2.mabels.com/mabels/vestapol.html.


04 Jun 99 - 01:47 PM (#84000)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: annamill


I just purchased the Russ Shipton blues and ragtime guitar player book. It's great. I love the songs, and the guitar playing hints. This is going to be great. I can't wait to get home. Dick, San Fransisco Bay Blues is in here. Maybe I'll be able to learn that too. I will be able to join in when you play it.

Cocaine Blues is in here too. I'm not going to get overly ambitious though.

I'm not crazy about Donovan's lyrics so I'll use the lyrics given to me in the Keep on Truckin thread. I haven't been able to find the Lomax book either. I'll try Amazon.

Thank you everyone and I hope I can do this before the get-together at my house.


05 Jun 99 - 02:06 PM (#84236)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: MAG (inactive)

Can anyone say more about the playing with arthritis thing?? I had a buncha lessons way back before I developed arthritis (FOLK lessons; classical music lessons are something I had to overcome) and it never came up.

I agree with play, play play; I had a job once where I played a bit every day, and my callouses got so tough I could practice the real stuff for hours. Cain't do that wo callouses.

I am considering getting a double-O size guitar, as they put less strain on my fingers and shoulder. Any thoughts?

-- MA

06 Jun 99 - 07:55 AM (#84360)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au

Just one thought, MAG. I have a somewhat delicate right shoulder and it was giving me trouble with a Dreadnaught I played at the time. I switched to a 00 size guitar and that did help a lot. However, now I play with the guitar waist leaning on my left knee (classical position; but without the left leg raised.) and I find that very easy on the shoulder with any size or shape guitar.

I knew a violinist in London many years ago who had arthritis in her fingers. She would wake up with them painful and stiff; but after she started playing the pain went away. The important thing, though, is that she warmed up gradually before she did any real finger-twisters.

06 Jun 99 - 10:52 AM (#84387)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Peter T.

Thank you BeesWing for your effort; thank you BSeed (Charles) for the particular version I wanted (sorry for the delayed thanks). Has there ever been a more beautifully evocative piece? I can hardly wait to give it a try.
Relevance to this thread: learning to play the guitar: listen to songs like this -- it constantly reminds you of why you want to learn. Can you imagine being able to create such a musical universe just by using your fingers, the human voice, and a box with a hole in it strung with wires? No, really, you can.
Seriously, no joke.
Yours, Peter T.

06 Jun 99 - 08:34 PM (#84487)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Rose

What an informative thread. Brings a thought to mind...in other cultures people sing, dance, and play instruments just for the sheer joy of it and most of the time, no one worries if they "know how to" or are "good enough". I have been "learning" guitar for 30 years and really haven't gotten very far at all but I still enjoy pulling the guitar out once in awhile and poking through the music I love - just for the fun of it(-: I admire those that can stick with it and really "know how to" but music can be joyful at any level if it sounds and feels good.

Am going to check my Borders for the Folksingers Guitar Guide though, would like to learn some basic picking. Is a 00 guitar like a 3/4 size guitar? I have small hands and have never learned to bridge well.

06 Jun 99 - 11:14 PM (#84517)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: MAG (inactive)

An OO guitar's neck is a bit shorter than standard, so the frets are a each a tad closer together; my hands are small too, and I wish I had discovered them years ago. Now, how much $$ shall I foolishly lay out? Enough to get an instrument which will appreciate in value, assuming it will inspire me to practice more?

07 Jun 99 - 01:25 PM (#84636)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Easy Rider

What kind of guitar to buy? The best you can afford.

Good guitars are expensive, but I don't think they are really THAT expensive, and I'll tell you a story why.

In 1964, when I was sixteen years old, I wanted to buy a good guitar (a Gibson J-50), so I asked my father for the $155.00, and he said 'No' because he thought it would be a waste of money if I lost interest and stopped playing. 'No, Dad.' I said. 'A good guitar gets better as it ages, and it goes up in value too. I could always sell it and get my money back. Also, a good guitar is easy to play and sounds good to you, so you want to play it more and you WILL play it more'. I didn't convince him, so I spent my own money, my life savings and bought the guitar myself.

That was thirty-six years ago, and I still have my Old Lady Gibson today. She's brought me uncountable hours of playing pleasure, and I've long since forgotten that I spent my life savings on her. By the way, I had her appraised honestly for nearly $1800, just recently. As far as being expensive goes, It took me a year to save the $155, in 1964, but I could save the $1800, I would need today in perhaps one twentieth the time. The same guitar is cheaper today!

Play a lot of good guitars in all the stores you can find, and when you find the ONE that really sounds and feels 'right' buy it. You won't be sorry thirty-six years from now.

The difference between a 00 size guitar and a dreadnought is not the neck length but the string scale (length). Dreadnoughts and orchestra models (OMs) all have a 25.4" string scale, while many smaller guitars, like the Martin 000-28 or the 00 models have a 24.9" string scale. A baby Taylor has a 22" string scale. The shorter the scale, the softer the action and the closr the frets are to each other, making stretches easier.

Another factor, for small hands is the fingerboard width. Dreadnoughts and most smaller guitars have a 1 11/16" width at the nut, while the OM models are 1 3/4" wide. I have big hands, so I like the wider fingerboard, but you might find a narrower one easier to play.



07 Jun 99 - 03:31 PM (#84657)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: o'hanrahan

Also one with arthritis might try some open tuning stuff, something that may require less fingering. Not to say that all open tunining pieces are simple, that is far from the truth, but i imagine one could 'strum and barre' to accompany oneself. And i agree with trying to hold the guitar in different positions and modifying the classical one. Silk and steel type strings may also be worth trying, although they are not my preference, they are easy to play.

07 Jun 99 - 07:58 PM (#84738)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: Rose

Gosh, you mean my old guitar might be worth something in money terms. How about a 1967 Hoffner classical guitar. Hoffner??? I can't remember, I think that's what it is. It doesn't really say. I remember it cost about $150 but think my Mom may have paid more than she needed to. It was my birthday present that year. I was thrilled, but the neck is very wide (to me)and hard to play...may have to check out a used smaller one. Did anyone see the program on the Martin guitar company, and the making of the special Stephen Stills edition? It was a neat program.

08 Feb 00 - 06:05 PM (#175229)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar

I, too , remember Laura Webber (sp?)and the folk guitar lessons on PBS. I lived in Wharton, Texas, at the time and watched it on the Houston PBS station, I believe at about 6:00pm. The year was 1967 because my second daughter had just been born. I remember "All the Day A-Singing" and many others, and I also learning the Rhumba strum among many others. I would like the song books for use in teaching ESL. I believe they sold for $1.00 each. The program was created in California, as I recall.

02 Jan 05 - 04:08 PM (#1369563)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: open mike

ah yes Laura Webber, i learned Phil Ochs song Changes from her.
and many others--wich i could find the instruction books again..
any one else?

02 Jan 05 - 04:58 PM (#1369588)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: open mike

i found reference to the Lara Weber PBS guitar class..
Nanci Griffith was one of the students!! i have contacted PBS
to see if by any chance there are copies of video or books available.

>Quote from story in today's Boston Weekly TAB Newspaper on Nanci            
>Griffith:                                                             >                                                                      "...As for PBS, Griffith, who has been a regular on the show 'Austin
>City Limits,' considers the network to be an American treasure. 'If we      
>lose PBS, we'll lose that one [interesting] channel that people all         
>across the country - especially in rural areas - can get even if they         
>don't have cable."                                                            >                                                                              >       "'PBS is so important,' she continues. 'I even learned how to play   
>guitar from PBS when I was 6 years old. It was a Saturday morning show      
>called "Guitar" hosted by a woman named Laura. She usually used Phil         
>Ochs songs, which as a kid was really great because here was a person         
>who wasn't patronizing at all to a child learning how to play an            
>instrument."                                                                  >                                                                              >Anyone know about this show? Thanks, Siouxie D                                                                                                                                                                                                                         --                                                                                                
"Life without music would be an intolerable insult." (Edward Abbey)                                                                                          
// That was Laura Weber who hosted the PBS guitar show way back when.
// - MF

03 Jan 05 - 07:47 AM (#1369915)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: eleanor c

I didn't really get anywhere for a long time with guitar till I bought a good one that was easy to play ( & made me want to play it) and found the apocalyptically helpful website


which is a gift from the guitar slinging gods I must say - complete with charismatic guru who looks like Brian May.

That and putting in a good hour or more nearly every day so you actually see progress on ,say, a monthly basis. It gets easier, is what no-one ever told me! Still a long way to go but I never thought I'd even be able to do what I can do now quite easily...

03 Jan 05 - 08:07 AM (#1369923)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: mkebenn

Lomax and Silverman out of print? More proof of the decline of Civilization. Mike

06 Feb 05 - 04:03 PM (#1400929)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: GUEST,bklynray1@buckeye-express.com

I would gladly pay whatever the cost to get a copy of the PBS TV series aired in 1967 with Laura Weber "Folk Guitar" instruction and her instruction manual.
I can be reached at bklynray1@buckeye-express.com

14 Feb 05 - 09:29 PM (#1410006)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: GUEST,angelofmercy920@allte.net

I have four books from the Laura Weber Folk Guitar series presented on PBS many years ago. I would be willig to copy them if it is not illegal and share the copies to anyone interested.

14 Feb 05 - 10:13 PM (#1410046)
Subject: RE: Learning to play guitar
From: goodbar

i learned by looking up chord charts for the chords i found are played a lot in pogues songs. then i just read a bunch of stuff from various web sites and here i am.