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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
Big Al Whittle 01 Aug 06 - 01:45 PM
Scoville 01 Aug 06 - 02:32 PM
SharonA 01 Aug 06 - 07:48 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 01 Aug 06 - 07:54 PM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Aug 06 - 09:08 PM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Aug 06 - 09:19 PM
SharonA 01 Aug 06 - 09:24 PM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Aug 06 - 09:39 PM
SharonA 01 Aug 06 - 09:40 PM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Aug 06 - 09:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Aug 06 - 09:44 PM
SharonA 01 Aug 06 - 09:58 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 01 Aug 06 - 10:53 PM
SharonA 01 Aug 06 - 11:37 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 01 Aug 06 - 11:58 PM
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s&r 02 Aug 06 - 04:46 AM
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Grab 02 Aug 06 - 05:13 AM
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Scrump 02 Aug 06 - 07:19 AM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Aug 06 - 07:20 AM
s&r 02 Aug 06 - 08:01 AM
Peter T. 02 Aug 06 - 03:02 PM
just john 03 Aug 06 - 01:19 PM
Don Firth 03 Aug 06 - 03:41 PM
Scoville 03 Aug 06 - 04:53 PM
Murray MacLeod 03 Aug 06 - 05:54 PM
Peace 03 Aug 06 - 05:59 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 03 Aug 06 - 06:54 PM
Grab 04 Aug 06 - 05:48 AM
Don Firth 04 Aug 06 - 06:25 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 05 Aug 06 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 06 Aug 06 - 10:36 AM
Don Firth 06 Aug 06 - 02:45 PM
Grab 06 Aug 06 - 03:37 PM
Peter T. 07 Aug 06 - 09:13 AM
PoppaGator 08 Aug 06 - 01:42 AM
Peter T. 08 Aug 06 - 06:54 AM
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GUEST 09 Aug 06 - 03:10 PM
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Johnhenry'shammer 11 Aug 06 - 02:04 AM
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Janice in NJ 12 Aug 06 - 10:32 AM
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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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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 01:45 PM

the trouble is that its a fair old while since some of us were beginners.

I'd give this advice though

1) use a felt pick when you start doesn't sound good but it is forgiving and sounds better than mistakes. it makes a woolier sound.

2) there lots of two chord songs. singing in the rain. how much is that doggy in the window, jambalaya, the wheels on the bus, whole world in his hand. Give a performance - either a kindergaten or an old peoples home - somewhere where they probably won't throw things. Anyway don't wait til you're Eric Clapton before you start performing - otherwise you won't learn anything up to performance standard - which should be aimed so high that its not pissing too many people off. Nothing worse than someone who can half play everything John renbourn and bert jansch ever put on record.

3) the guitar is only the accompaniment - sing out loud and expressively also. If possible in the correct key - but thats some way down the road - not really to be hoped for from a beginner.

4) songs are like little stories - sometimes they are happy - other times not so happy - let this be reflected in your singing.

5) buy an electronic tuner, lemon oil for the frets, guitar polish for the wodden bits, change your strings at least every 3 months.

6) practise silently when everybody is watching TV. If there is a tv programme that is on for an hour. Hold an unfamiliar chord down - till the first lot of adverts come on. then when the second half comes on, the second chord. In the third section, try moving from chord one to chord two. the more you practise the easier it gets.

7) sometimes you will think - this is horrible. I sound terrible and I'm not getting anywhere. Strangely enough this is often the day or two days before you make a breakthrough - keep plodding on as long as you can, before taking a break. But when you can't stand another minute - then its okay, you did your best.

8) if your hands are cold they don't work so well.

hope some of this is useful.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Scoville
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 02:32 PM

Second learnng the I,IV,V7 chord patterns--this will save you a lot of trouble. I somehow took five years of piano lessons and yet failed to translate all my theory nonsense into "guitar speak" until I took a beginner guitar workshop somewhere, years later. Suddenly, life got a whole lot easier.

Additionally, I think the minors are usually the VI and sometimes II (i.e. F# minor and secondarily B minor in the key of A, A minor and secondarily D minor in the key of C, etc.)


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 07:48 PM

And what, Mr. Hammer may ask, is all this Roman-numeral mumbo-jumbo that Scoville and Peter T are talking about? It's music-theory shorthand. They're talking about how the chords in a song relate to one another.

Without getting too technical about it at this early stage in your song-learning, the "I" (One) is the key the song is in. The best example would be the key of C. Now, find a piano keyboard or a picture of one on the internet and, considering the white key that is the note "C" as your first piano key, count up to the fourth WHITE piano key. This will be the note "F". Counting up from C (the first white piano key) to the fifth white key will give you the note "G". Okay, now, getting back to your guitar and our Roman numerals, if the "I" (One) chord is a C chord, then the "IV" (Four) chord is an F chord, and the "V" chord is a G chord. Learning to play this I,IV, V pattern will allow you to play many, many, many songs!

The reason they call it a I, IV, V pattern is that it's a pattern no matter what key you're playing in. In the key of D it'll be D,G,A. In the key of E it'll be E, A, B. In the key of F it'll be F, B flat, C... and so on. So how do you know what the "IV" guitar chord will be for any particular "I" guitar chord if you don't know pianos or music theory? Start with the "root" note of the "I" chord (the note for which the chord is named -- for example, the root of a C chord is the note C) and, on your guitar, count up 5 frets (for example, to the note F). That's the root of your "IV" chord.

Hey, wow, whaddaya know... if you look at your piano keyboard and count upwards using all the white AND black piano keys, it's the same number of notes.

For a "V" chord you'll count upwards 7 frets. Et cetera.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

I second Scrump's advice to watch what other players do. Attend sessions, find jams where you will be welcome to join in as a beginner, go to folk guitarits' performances, and in all cases watch the hands of the players. Watch how their picking hands pick. Watch how their chording hands form the chords (some chords have several fingering options from which to choose) and watch them change from one chord to another. Listen to the chord progressions as they change, in order to learn more chord patterns. Be a sponge and soak it all in. Teach your ear to hear the chords and the chord changes, as well as teaching your eyes to see them. This will help you immensely when following along in jams. Following along in jams will, in turn, help you learn to play what you're watching others play.

When you practice, try to discipline yourself to keep going through a song or a picking sequence, instead of stopping-and-starting-over, even if you make mistakes along the way. Just keep repeating the whole song or sequence, and the number of mistakes within it will lessen over time. The formation of those brain pathways that Foolestroupe was talking about is dependent on this kind of practicing!


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 07:54 PM

Alright Don, I'll go to work on that right away!


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:08 PM

" Start with the "root" note of the "I" chord (the note for which the chord is named -- for example, the root of a C chord is the note C) and, on your guitar, count up 5 frets (for example, to the note F)."

Sorry, that's not quite right... but I'm a keyboard player, not a guitarist...

Try "count up 4 notes in the scale" eg C, D, E, F...

You see, there are sharps and flats in the middle there, which will throw out the fret count... at my count, it's nearer 6 frets....


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:19 PM

Forgot to say

"which may throw out the fret count... " depending where in the sequence of the 12 chromatic notes you start.... and trying to remember the correct number of semitones (frets) for the correct number of steps in the scale is confusing for musical beginners, and varies with Major & Minor.

F G A B C is 5 notes from I to V in the scale of F Major - 7 semitones (frets)

C D E F G is 5 notes from I to V in the scale of C Major - 7 semitones (frets)

C D E F is 4 notes from I to V in the scale of C Major - 5 semitones (frets)


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:24 PM

Foolestroupe: Yes, but you're talking about whole notes in a scale. I was talking about counting frets up the fingerboard.

You quoted me out of context! Note the sentence before the one you quoted: "So how do you know what the "IV" guitar chord will be for any particular "I" guitar chord if you don't know pianos or music theory?"

I was trying to answer that question, which I imagine might be posed by the beginner guitarist, without referring to scales and whole notes and half-notes and the chromatic scale and dominant chords and so forth ad nauseum.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:39 PM

Ok SharonA

I go along with the 'lies to children' educational approach too, but sometimes just getting beginners to an understanding of the real basic theory is easier in the long run... you don't have to get them relearn things... and some never will want to relearn things correctly...

The learning of some basic musical theory is inevitable if you really want to progress as a muso, just ask any long term player here, you will find many such reinforcing quotes from them in the past threads.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:40 PM

Sorry; I failed to end my italics in the first paragraph of my previous post.

Anyway, I think I covered the matter of counting up to the fourth and fifth notes in a scale when I talked about the white keys of a piano (i.e. the C scale). I was counting the "I" as the first note of the scale, just as you did.

However, when I talked about simply counting frets up the guitar fingerboard, I did not count the starting place as one of the frets. In other words, in my example of counting up from C to F, the C (let's say the one at the 3rd fret on the 5th string) was counted as "number zero". In this example of the 5th string, the C is on the 3rd fret and the F is on the 8th fret. 8 - 3 = 5 .... which matches the count you made in your post of 9:19 PM.

So I think we're on the same page.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:42 PM

We're posting out of phase...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:44 PM

"I did not count the starting place "

That's the old Maths 'Fence posts and panels' hassle...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 09:58 PM

Foolestroupe again: Hmmm... reading your last post, maybe we're not on the same page after all. I'm not proposing that we tell "lies" to children. I don't think that anything I said here is a "lie". I just wanted to give the most rudimentary explanation of I,IV,V that I could think of, without throwing around a lot of terminology that might only add to a beginner's confusion.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that, ideally, a beginner should come to an understanding of "the real basic theory" ASAP. But what did I say that was not "real"? You and I simply explained the same concept in different ways. I don't think it's necessary for a beginning guitarist to learn all the proper terminology of basic music theory before learning to play chord patterns. I think it's perfectly all right to learn both as one goes along. Besides, most if not all beginners already have some knowledge of music, as well as preconceptions and misconceptions about it, simply from having listened to it. There's always something that has to be unlearned!

Then there are those innovative players who, having formed their own ideas about music before picking up an instrument, develop their own styles of playing and writing that defy the rules. "Learning things correctly" may be proper but it may not be "right" for everyone...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 10:53 PM

You guys have been having this argument or dicussion or whatever you want to call it for quite some time now and I still have no idea what either of you are talking about.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 11:37 PM

JH's Hammer: Thank you! In a way, I feel vindicated.

See that? Beginners can play guitar and learn to play I-IV-V songs like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" -- which Mr. Hammer mentioned in his first post here -- without having to know what I-IV-V means. Hah! :^D

Okay, John Henry's Hammer, let me try to explain it using "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" as an example. What chords do you use when you play the song?


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 01 Aug 06 - 11:58 PM

G, Em, C, and D


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 01:44 AM

JH'sH: Thanks for the chords -- that's perfect! Okay, I can see that you're playing the song in the key of G. Therefore, the G chord is your "I" (Roman numeral One) chord.

The C chord is named thus because C is the note that's the root of the chord. The note C is four whole notes up the scale from the note G (or, if you were singing it as "do re mi fa", G would be "do" and C would be "fa"). Therefore, the C chord is your "IV" (Roman numeral 4) chord.

The D chord: D is the note that's the root of the chord. The note D is five whole notes up the scale from the note G (if sung as "do re mi fa so", G would be "do" and D would be "so"). Therefore, the D chord is your "V" (Roman numeral 5) chord.

What about the Em chord, you ask? ...You did ask, didn't you?... That's the "VI" (Roman numeral 6) chord, because E is six whole notes up the scale from G ("do re mi fa so la"). It's a minor chord because it is a -- deep breath here as I introduce a new phrase -- "scale tone chord". The chord (E-G-B) is made up of three tones (the "la", "do" and "mi" notes) that appear in the G scale (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G), so it comes out as a minor chord in the G major scale.

Now, here's why we've got this fancy-schmancy Roman numeral system in the first place: The system makes it easy to figure out the chords when you change keys. Pretend that you found the "Flowers" song really hard to sing in the key of G and you wanted to sing it in a key that would be more comfortable for your voice instead, like D. So that would make the D chord your "I" chord. The D scale is D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D. So what's your "IV" chord? G. Your "V" chord? A. Your "VI" chord? B minor.

All of this might sound confusing and perhaps even somewhat useless to you at the moment, but trust us when we tell you that it's worth learning. Since so many songs are written in a I-IV-V format (not always with that VI thrown in!), you should practice playing those chord changes in different keys so your chording hand will get used to switching back and forth among them. Here's a chart that shows you the I-IV-V chords in every key: I-IV-V chord progressions

Here's a page that discusses the Scale Tone Chords in more detail: Scale Tone Chords

Here's more stuff about chord progressions, including II-V-I and III-VI-II-V-I: Chord Progressions explained

Here's a page with a piano keyboard display, which will show you the notes that make up different chords when you click on the chord name: Chords and Scales on Piano Click the "play" button to hear the notes in a chord. This will help you to learn the notes you should be hearing when you play the chord on guitar.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: s&r
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 02:49 AM

It doesn't help to learn anything about the piano to play the guitar. What seems instinctive to a keyboard player and common sense is a source of confusion to a non keyboard player. I have taught guitar for 30+ years: the only time I use a piano keyboard is when the student asks a piano related question.

Someone above said to leave the guitar out of its case so you can play at every opportunity. Hear Hear! Cases are for transportation, not storage IMO.

Learn barre chords, learn closed scale patterns, learn to play with other people. Do some warm-up exercises to get your fingers supple. Have two or three lessons with a good teacher (you don't have to commit to a lifetime's expense) to make sure that your basic techniques are OK.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 04:27 AM

s&r says, "It doesn't help to learn anything about the piano to play the guitar."

I couldn't disagree more. Music theory is music theory, regardless of instrument. I learned piano as a child before I picked up any other instrument, and that instruction has been priceless in helping me learn to play other instruments more quickly and easily. Early instruction on piano also has been an invaluable aid to my songwriting, virtually all of which I do on guitar. I've lost count of the number of times my guitarist-songwriter friends have expressed envy of me for my knowledge of music theory which they never picked up from learning to play only the guitar.

The reasons I made reference to the diagram of a piano keyboard are that (a) it makes it easy to visualize a C major scale (the white keys) and that (b) it makes it easy to visualize sharps and flats (the black keys).

I linked to the "Chords and Scales on Piano" page because it's a very handy one-spot reference for defining and listening to many different chords. If you know of a similar site that uses a guitar fingerboard, shows the proper fingering for chords and chord inversions, gives the sound of the chord as it should be played, etc., then by all means please post a link here.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: s&r
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 04:46 AM

Sharon - you make my point 'What seems instinctive to a keyboard player and common sense is a source of confusion to a non keyboard player' when you learned piano as a child it seemed the natural way to visualise notes.

As an example, playing F#major scales on a piano is difficult; on a guitar using closed position scales it is no different to any other scale.

What you seem to be saying is 'So you want to play the guitar? OK let's learn piano first...

Stu


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Betsy
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 05:07 AM

Learn to play with a thumb pick which wraps round your thumb and protrudes at a right angle to your thumb.
I learned with my fingernails and regret it everytime my thumbnail breaks , or is not long enough / worn and I can't get a little purchase on the base strings with it.
Having learned to play without picks ,it is a different angle of playing and unfortunately I cannot managed the change in technique after these many years, although Alaska picks almost solved the problem , but alas not completely.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Grab
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 05:13 AM

Tim, Alaska Piks are a worthy effort, but they don't really work. Like all finger-mounted picks, they will either (a) fall off at a critical moment, or (b) catch on the string and jam up your finger.

If you're playing fingerstyle, your best friend is a good nail file. My experience is that filed nails are more robust than clipped nails, and it's easier to fine-tune them to the right length with a file than a clipper. Some people (classical music gurus) say they sound better than clipped nails too, but us mere mortals are unlikely to notice. Keep your right-hand nails filed level with or just beyond the fingertip (1-2mm longer at most) as you look at your fingers sideways on. Shorter than that, and there's no nail to catch the strings, which gives a fuzzy, weak "thud" kind of sound. Longer than that, and the nails are the only thing catching the string so you get a thin, metallic sound, plus the nails are weaker so you'll be forever breaking them. Somewhere in the middle, both the fingertip flesh and the nail are hitting the string, giving a good solid sound.

If you bite your fingernails, stop immediately. Or at least restrict yourself to your left hand anyway (which is my deal with myself! :-)

If you're currently strumming chords, starting doing fingerstyle patterns on those chords will improve your left-hand no end. Playing a chord, you might not hear that you're not quite holding down one of the strings properly, or that you're fouling an open string with your fingers. Playing fingerstyle, each note rings out individually, so there's no hiding place! :-)

For simple fingerpicking, the main thing for starting is to keep your thumb covering all the bottom three strings, and the next three fingers covering the top three strings. I think Don kind of hints at this. This is the "default" fingerpicking position. Obviously as you get better then you'll be able to break away from this, but you want to get comfortable with playing like this before you start doing anything more fancy.

A few fingerpicking patterns to try. I'll try and avoid the "p/i/m/a" notation that Don's used too. It's correct, but it's confusing to start with, so I'm going to show it as strings, where "6" is bottom E and "1" is top E. Remember that strings 6/5/4 (E/A/D) are all played with the thumb. And play any chord - Am and G work well for practise, but the same patterns will work on all chords. Also note that all these patterns are based on 4 beats to the bar.

Simplest pattern: 5 3 2 1 or 6 3 2 1. Try the two on different chords and see how they sound.

A better pattern: 5 2 3 1 or 6 2 3 1. This is a very common pattern, so it's worth getting the hang of.

Once you can do those, try alternating the string played by the thumb, so: 5 2 3 1 | 4 2 3 1 or 6 2 3 1 | 5 2 3 1. Or any variations.

All these assume equal-length notes. Another different pattern would be: 5-- 3 1 where the 5 is held for two notes' worth. This sounds very good if you play: 5-- 3 1 | 5 2 3 1 to break up the rhythms. And you can use the same thing for all the other patterns, just holding the first note on for longer and skipping the second note.

All these patterns will be covered in any decent guitar tutor book, but it's something to get you going.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: SharonA
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 05:20 AM

Hi, Stu:

No, I didn't mean to say that one should learn piano before learning guitar. I understand your point about my own visualization of notes, but again I disagree with your statement that it "doesn't help to learn anything about the piano" in order to play guitar. I'm certainly not saying that one needs to learn how to play chords on a piano before learning to play the same chords on guitar. I am saying that the piano keyboard can be a useful tool for beginning guitarists when it comes to visualizing BASIC MUSIC THEORY (and not that it absolutely is or is not). Okay???

Anyway, I found a couple of guitar-fingering reference pages, on the same site as the piano-keyboard page, with many of the same features. Check out the chord fingering, listen to the chord as it's played, look at scales in different keys, do it all in different tunings, etc. Here are the pages:

Guitar Room (Easy)

Guitar Room (Advanced)


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Scrump
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 07:19 AM

I learnt piano (I had a lessons as a kid) before teaching myself guitar, and I think it did help me work out basic chords, etc., in the early days, because I already knew (for example) that the C major chord consists of the 3 notes C, E and G, and once I'd figured out where those notes were on the guitar, I was able to work out where to put my fingers on the strings to get the same notes and hence play the chord.

But I don't know if it would have been any easier or more difficult the other way round, i.e. learning guitar first then keyboard. And I never will know.

And after learning guitar I found it relatively easy to learn banjo, mandolin, etc. Although I've never been able to play fiddle - that requires technique/skill that I don't seem to have :(

I would have thought that learning any instrument and getting a basic idea of music theory would help when learning another instrument, though, even if it's in a completely different family of instruments.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 07:20 AM

"lies to children"

an example - when a death occurs "they have gone to sleep" or "gone away"

They are not really 'lies', ok, maybe 'white lies', but just simply an explanation that is not highly technically detailed, but is adequate for beginners (not always just children)

~~~~~~~

Not wanting to learn any Music Theory when learning your first instrument, unless you are teaching yourself to play be ear, is like wanting to drive a car without wanting to know the rules of the road - you may survive, but life is easier if you know a few simple rules...


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: s&r
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 08:01 AM

I learned guitar first: following that keyboard was easy but not very logical.

The difficulties are to do with playing rather than theory - many theory books are keyboard based, and to read and understand those books, a knowledge of piano layout is an advantage: however, there are now many books which are theory for guitarists, and don't rely on keyboard.

Differences and points of confusion: guitar, all closed scales are the same in all keys. Piano - all scales have different fingering. Chord shapes are easy on piano; complex on guitar. Bending notes doesn't work on piano. You don't tune a piano. Alternative tunings are not used on piano. Ornaments are played differently. Notes occur once on a piano, six or so on a guitar.

Sometimes learning a second instrument can be confusing: I find that the Double Bass is confusing since it is tuned in fourths, not fifths (like most bowed strings), but has no frets like the electric bass. Similarly, I find that I use different fingering for Violin and Mandolin.

Musical knowledge is completely transferable - timing, emphasis etc, but instrument knowlwedge/skill not so. IMO

Stu


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Aug 06 - 03:02 PM

the tough part about the piano/guitar switch is the fingernails!

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: just john
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 01:19 PM

Tip for guitarists and operators of similar instruments, especially when there's more than one present:

If you're going to be drinking or imbibing other stuff, don't start doing so until you've completed tuning up.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 03:41 PM

All good stuff, Graham. Pretty much what I was going to go into next.

On fingernails, I've always used "natural meat and bone," never fingerpicks. No surprise, considering that I play a nylon string classic, but even when I play steel strings, which I do from time to time, I still use my nails. I've tried using thumb and fingerpicks, but I found it like trying to tap-dance with combat boots on. Best combination, as you say, is flesh and nail—for both classic and steel-string guitars. Some of the best steel-string guitarists I know personally, like Walt Robertson (who played both six and 12-string) and George Austin (who plays outrageous alternating bass stuff) don't use fingerpicks. Only their nails. And they get a good, clean, loud sound out of their guitars.

There are nail files on the market that are really good for shaping and smoothing the nails, like an emory board, only made of metal—some kind of fine grit embedded in the metal. The first ones I found were called "Diamon Deb." They're very good, but the one I like best is put out by Revlon. One side is for shaping and the other side, with somewhat finer grit, is for finishing. You can actually polish the edges of your nails with the finishing side You should be able to get them at any drug store, on the Revlon display rack. I have a short one that I carry with me all the time for touching up and repairing the occasional snag, and a longer one for serious work. A couple of bucks.

Everybody's nails are a little different, so it pays to experiment with different lengths and shapes. And the nails will strengthen and thicken as you use them. My first classic guitar teacher told me that my nails would strengthen just as a result of using them, but he suggested that I might massage each right-hand finger near the back of the nail (the matrix, where it grows out of the finger) a couple of minutes every day to stimulate blood flow. Something worked, because the nails on my right hand thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers are actually about half again as thick as the nails on my other fingers.

The reason I prefer the p/i/m/a form of notation for the right hand is, first, it's an international standard for classic guitar notation (and I've also seen it used in some folk guitar books), and second, it avoids yet another collection of numbers for the poor beleaguered beginner to try to sort out. When you use numbers for the left hand, numbers for the frets, and numbers for the strings to be played with the right hand fingers—I've learned from my pupils that they can often get really confused about what's being said. Hence, numbers for the left hand, letters for the right.

Since, as you noted, one doesn't always play the three basses with the thumb and the three trebles with the fingers, one can say, "Play the 2nd string with i and the 1st string with m," and the whole thing is pretty clear.

But as long as it communicates and the aspiring guitarist can keep it straight, either system works.

Just to continue a bit on the numbers theme:    In music theory, when discussing things like scale structure, numbers are usually used rather than letters (C, D, E, F, etc.) because one can say, "In major scales, there is a half-step between 3 and 4, and 7 and 8. All the rest are whole steps," and that applies to all major scales, not just the key of C. Then, when talking about chords, one says "a chord consists of a root, a third, and a fifth." Then, when one runs into things like, "The 3rd of the IV chord is the 6th degree of the major scale," is it any wonder that some poor music students leap up and run screaming into the night, never to be heard from again?

If it's a standard, recognized system and it gets away from the confusion engendered by whole strings of numbers, I'm all for it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Scoville
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 04:53 PM

I pretty much keep my nails cut off either way, for piano or guitar. They used to get caught in the piano keys, but then I couldn't fret a guitar with long nails (I leave the ones on my right hand long because a) I'm right handed and tend to do a poor job of nail-trimming with the left hand, and b) I use a flat-pick so I'm not playing with the nails, anyway).

I'm going to learn a bit of fingerpicking one of these days (years . . . decades . . . ), I swear. Right now I'm always the back-up guitarist for a bunch of other instruments, and we don't have a bass, so the aim is for sound volume and not intonation. Flat pick and a lot of pounding on bass strings. It's not pretty but, by God, I'll keep everyone on the same beat.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 05:54 PM

Some more Useful Techniques for Beginners


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Peace
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 05:59 PM

Banjo is a good instrument, too.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 06:54 PM

I'm just tryin to take it one step at a time, Peace. Haha.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Grab
Date: 04 Aug 06 - 05:48 AM

Cheers Don. I agree that p/i/m/a is the best way of showing right hand. But as you say, the less things to learn at once, the better - I reckoned that counting strings assumes less knowledge than saying "with p on the D string". :-)

JHH, the quality of tone you get from fingerstyle is *absolutely* dependent on how your right-hand fingers hit the strings. Now you can try and work out yourself how to get this right, but the best way is to go and get a few lessons from someone who knows classical guitar. You don't need them to teach you anything else (scales, pieces or anything), just to look at what you're doing and correct your technique.

That's the best way to use a teacher, incidentally - work out what you need them for and get them to polish up your skills in that specific area. It's like getting a decorator in to do your house. You'll get much better results for less money if you know in advance what colours and wallpaper you want, instead of making the decorator do all the running. :-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Aug 06 - 06:25 PM

I agree wholeheartedly. For any aspiring guitarist who wants to play things that require the use of the right-hand fingers, I can't think of a better way to get off to a first-rate start than to take a few lessons from a good classic guitar teacher.

Just curious, JHH. What kind of guitar did you get?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 10:52 AM

Takamine GS330S. Great, rich tone.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 06 Aug 06 - 10:36 AM

Learn to sing and play as many different kinds of songs that you can. In this process you will find the direction you need.

Out of the singing and playing, the instrumental will come.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Aug 06 - 02:45 PM

Eureka! Hosanna! I'll even go so far as to say Gloriosky!!

I've had a book on my bookshelf for years called How to Play by Ear, by M. Emett Wilson.   It was one of the textbooks I was required to get when I attended the Cornish School of the Arts in the early Sixties. We never actually used it that much in class and I just stashed it on my shelves along with other textbooks I kept.

I've just pulled it out and scanned through it. I haven't come to any solid conclusions yet, but I think this could be the very thing for people interested in folk music or other kinds of music, but don't want to get involved in taking extensive (and sometimes expensive) lessons or immersing themselves in classes on music theory. It gives great information on how to hear and figure out what's going on in melody lines, and how to determine what chords to play, and answers to all kinds of other questions that pop up here on Mudcat—all without using written music! Whenever Wilson does use a brief passage of written music, he "translates" it for those who can't read music.

The copy I have was published in 1960, so I went on line to see if it was still available. Apparently it has been reprinted (1982) and it may be available through Amazon or various used book dealers.

HOWEVER—

As I was googling, I found THIS. It gives a synopsis of the book, and then, if you scroll down to where it says, "To get started reading this free material, just go to:   Free Piano Music and click on Free Piano Music. This will take you to another page, where once again, scroll down to where it says "CLICK HERE TO READ CHAPTER 1," and lo! and behold, as far as I can tell, the whole book is free, on line.

It's basically written with piano in mind, but don't let that put you off. What Wilson talks about can apply to any instrument, including the guitar, the banjo, whatever.

Give it a look.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Grab
Date: 06 Aug 06 - 03:37 PM

Too right, Frank! If you don't enjoy playing, it's all a bit of a waste of time. That's the tragedy of too many young people in the classical style, unfortunately - some teachers manage to suck all the fun out of it. If you're doing it for yourself instead of for a teacher, you get much more out of it.

One more thing on fingerpicking - alternate thumb picking. This is simply changing which note your thumb plays. So in Am, the following will work nicely:-

5 3 2 1 | 4 3 2 1 | 5 3 2 1 | 6 3 2 1

Then try putting a thumb stroke in every other note, and just playing the same note with the other fingers:-

5 2 4 2 | 5 2 6 2

Then put them together:-

5 3 4 2 | 5 1 4 2

Then just mix and match, any combination in any order. At that point, it's up to *you* to find the fingerpicking sequence that *you* like for each song. And by then, you'll be really motoring - if you're not playing open-mics and singarounds by then, you should be! :-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Peter T.
Date: 07 Aug 06 - 09:13 AM

Wow, Don, this is truly amazing. What a find. Just what I have been looking for practically forever. Thanks for it!

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 01:42 AM

Let me register a mild protest against the prevailing anti-fingerpicks school of thought. I've been playing for almost forty years, and I know that my own playing benefits from much greater precision, as well as much more dynamic range, when I use my picks. Not everyone will want to invest the time to accustom themselves to the use of these "unnatural" appendages, but some of those who see, hear, and appreciate skillful picking-with-picks will always set out to emulate and learn thsi method.

I do also play without picks fairly regularly, if for no other reason than to keep my volume down when playing at home late at night ("practicing"). When working up a new piece or new arrangement, I find it useful to work both with and without picks as a way to try as many different approaches as possible. Once I've firmed up the way I want to play a given number, however, I'll always use my picks to perform it.

I should note that I'm talking about picking the acoustic steel-string guitar. On the rare occasions when I fool around with an electric guitar, I find that bare hands work quite well and fingerpicks don't help at all.

I have no argument with anyone who prefers to play in a different manner than I do ~ different strokes for different folks, absolutely. However, I do resent the implication that only flesh and nails can produce sensitive, subtle, expressive playing. It's downright ignorant to assume that picks can only be used in a crude, heavy-handed manner. On the contrary, I know that I can play much more delicately and quickly (and audibly so) with picks than without.

It took a while to learn, of course, and I don't necessarily recommend that every beginner take up fingerpicking ~ with or without fingerpicks, for that matter. I've already invested plenty of time and effort in the path I adopted long ago, but it's not for everyone, I suppose...

One good reason NOT to learn to use fingerpicks: because it's apparently a dying art, it's getting harder and harder to find decent picks! I suppose they'll always be available in Nashville, because pedal steel players doing session work can't function without 'em. But elsewhere, years after the end of the folk music "boom" or "scare" or whatever, not too many of us are still fingerpicking, and we no longer seem to constitute a viable market demographic...

My pair of metal fingerpicks is virtually permanent; they're impossible to wear out, and they've been custom-fitted to my fingertips over the years, so I'm very careful to keep track of them. I lost a pair once, and had to start breaking in and shaping a new pair, so I'm now using my second pair of fingerpicks since 1969. The plastic thumbpick is another story ~ they wear out and break periodically and have to be replaced. As the years go by, fewer and fewer music stores seem to keep good basic thumbpicks in stock. Too often, the only thumbpicks available at a store are weird toy-like novelty items, obviously purchased by a buyer who has never actually played with a thumbpick. (I prefer Nationals, but have found equivalent decent picks under other brand names.)


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 06:54 AM

One thing about fingerpicks: they sure show up mistakes. You have to be way more careful!!

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 11:54 AM

Hey Peter ~ well, you're right: use of fingerpicks does make your mistakes sound out loud and clear. The corrollary of that observation is this: they also make good, correct playing much more audible. And I might add that they can serve to make a broader range of sounds possible to generate. Obviously, you're able to generate a louder sound when desired, but you're also able to make your quick, delicate, single-string runs and arpeggios, etc., sound very bright and clear, even at relatively low volume levels.

I'm not sure, however, that I'd recommend that a beginner commit to learning the use of fingerpicks. It's a whole extra learning curve to surmount, for one thing, and it puts you in a position where you have to have your picks with you in order to adequately "show your stuff." If you rely upon your fingernails and fleshy fingertips, on the other hand, they're always readily available ("at hand," if you will). Even for those who learn and become dependant upon the flatpick, it's usually pretty easy to find and borrow one ~ if indeed you don't always keep one or two in your pocket, along with your loose change. Because most players use flatpicks, most guitars you might have occasion to borrow are likely to be accompanied by a pick you can use.

Another problem with fingerpicks: they can pop right off your fingertips in the middle of a performance, leaving you in an awkward position. This never happens to me at home, or with friends, or in any low-pressure situation; however, since I recently resumed "playing out" after a 30-year hiatus, I've occasionally experienced just enough nervousness to cause my hands to tighten up a bit, falter, catch a pick on a string, and have it drop to the floor or ground or, worse yet, into the soundhole. Yikes!


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Grab
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 01:13 PM

My pet peeve with fingerpicks is that they force you to only ever play strokes that contract your hand, ie. up-strokes with your fingers and down-strokes with your thumb. You can usually get away with up-strokes with the thumb-pick, but down-strokes with your fingers is a physical impossibility with a normal fingerpick - they're curved so that a down-stroke will *always* snag the pick. Alaska Piks let you do this, but they're more likely to pop off unless you have long fingernails, in which case the "natural alternative" is probably fine.

The problem with that is that if you ever want to strum, you'd better remember to do it with your thumb-pick and not your fingers, otherwise you'll be collecting fingerpicks from all over the place. If your style's developed from classical guitar or frailing/clawhammer and involves strumming with your fingers, fingerpicks are a pain in the posterior. :-/

Having said that, they can give a lovely tone if used well. But I think you're right about beginners not using them - first find your style, and then see whether you can mix fingerpicks in with it.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 03:10 PM

..."pedal steel players doing session work can't function without 'em" ...

Not so, PoppaGator.

Although it is true that the majority of pedal steel players do favor picks, there are plenty of eminent pedal steel players who don't use them.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 10:05 PM

GUEST: Touche, I suppose, but there can't be that many barefingered steel players ~ I've never noticed one, ever. But then again, I'm not primarily a country-music listener.

Grab: Over many years, I've developed a technique of strumming with my picks on, down with the thumb and up with the two fingers. When playing/practicing without picks, I'll go both directions with my fingers (probably more downstrokes than up, in fact, in order to "brush" across the strings with the backs of my fingernails). Somehow, my neural synapses manage to control those two fingers appropriately according to whether or not they are armed with picks ~ I can easily and unconsciously restrict the fingers to upstrokes with picks, but leave them free to go both ways without. (My thumb, in contrast, works in one direction only ~ down ~ with or without a thumbpick.)

For the record, my first guitar was a nylon-string classical type; I learned to pick barehanded, and continued to play without picks of any kind for five-plus years until I upgraded to my current Martin D-18 in 1969. I then felt it absolutely necessary to start using a pick, or picks, because even the best steel-string acoustic, when fingerpicked au natural, simply can't match the volume of a classical guitar.

For a while, I fooled with flatpicks as well as fingerpicks, but after I began streetsinging for long hours, I quit the flatpick because of cramps in my thumb from gripping too hard. (Yeah, I know, I probably could have developed better technique and learned to flatpick correctly, but that was then...) Whereas I had previously divided my repertoire into "fingerpicking" and "strumming" categories, I gradually learned to play all my songs wearing the thumb-and-fingerpicks, even those for which I had no single-string picking arrangement, and for which I employed a multi-string, high-volume approach (i.e., "strumming" with fingerpicks).

It has taken many additional years, but at this late date I have developed a right-hand technique that allows me to attack any number of strings at once, one or two or even all six, at any time, with the thumb or with either finger, and keep a steady pulse gong with the thumb while enjoying a degree of freedom to play melody, or grace notes, or "comping" chords, or whatever, with the other two fingers. Pretty much what I wanted to do all along ~ but certainly NOT anything I was able to do as a beginner, or even as an "intermediate" player.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 02:04 AM

Well I've always wanted to play like Woody Guthrie. I've never seen a picture of him playing with finger picks so I'll probably just stick to my good ole fingers. Thanks to everybody for presenting both sides though.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 02:31 AM

I've got a question for everybody: what does all this shit mean? You know like the dashes with the numbers or the /a-b or /e stuff. That all looks like giberish to me and I'd be interested to know how to play it.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 01:37 PM

Tablature.

It's a very old method of writing music for instruments like the lute. Since the guitar is very similar to the lute (strings and frets), this is an example of the old lute tablature updated and applied to the guitar.

The six horizontal lines (a row of dashes or hyphens, which is the only way you can draw a line in this font) represent the six strings of the guitar. The top line is the 1st string, the bottom line is the 6th string. The numbers on the lines tell you what fret to play on that string ("0" = open string). The letter ("G") over the whole thing is the basic chord, the "e/" halfway across the first measure tells you to stay on the G chord, but play an E note on the 4th string, 2nd fret. The "0h2" means play the 5th string open, then hammer a finger down on the 2nd fret (a "hammer on" is the same as an upward slur).

Above the lines, the colon (":") indicates the downbeat (first beat of the measure) and the periods (".") are the main beats (1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4).

Very complicated lute pieces have been written this way, and there is no reason that the system shouldn't work well for the guitar. In fact, I've seen a few classical guitar manuals where, beneath the standard notation, tablature has been added as an aid for students just learning to read music.

It's a good system. But—it's no more difficult to learn to read regular notation than it is to learn to read tablature. And if a melody is written out in regular notation, you can play it on a guitar, a banjo, a piano, a bagpipe, or a glockenspiel. If a melody is written out in guitar tablature, the only instrument you can read it for is the guitar.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 01:42 PM

By the way, other than the added "e" in the first measure and the "hammer-on" in the second measure, the basic picking pattern is "Burl Ives basic":    thumb plays a bass string followed by all three fingers playing the three trebles simultaneously.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 02:38 PM

Wait a minute, wait a minute! I goofed!

The basic strum is not Burl Ives basic. What Guthrie is doing on this bit of tablature is the basic Carter Family strum.

Maybelle Carter would play a bass string with her thumb, then brush her index finger down across the treble strings and then flick it back up again, so she got a sort of "Bump-Diddy, Bump-Diddy" rhythm. With this as her basic strum, between picking her bass notes judiciously (and even coming up on the treble strings with her thumb sometimes) and adding hammer-ons and pull-offs, she could get pretty close to playing the melody line of a song while accompanying it with chords at the same time.

You can hear examples of this on any Carter Family recording, and at least on her first LPs, Joan Baez used this style to accompany several songs. Woody Guthrie used it a lot.

I hope this helps.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 05:31 PM

Well, how the hell about that!? When I confessed my mistake directly above, I wound up the 100th post on this thread. First time I've ever hit the century mark and I wasn't even trying.

This proves that confession is good for the . . . um . . . something . . . I guess. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 05:54 PM

Well I can't say I understood really any of the stuff about tablature. Do you think you could try and explain that again?


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 06:59 PM

This is about as good an explanation of how tablature works as I have seen.

Clicky.

But an additional little thing that whoever did the short example of Guthrie's "Hard Travelin'" added was above the tab—the colon (:) showing the downbeat and the periods (.) indicating where the other beats came in relation to what the thumb and fingers are doing. Nice touch.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: GUEST,BadGutz
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 07:41 PM

Play everything exacly backwards.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 09:39 PM

Well, BadGutz, if you do that, all you can hear is "Paul is dead."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 12 Aug 06 - 01:14 AM

Sorry if this is getting annoying but bear with me. I'm still not 100% sure on what the /e or /d and especially the /a-b mean. I also am not clear on the G chord and the other notes above the tab.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 12 Aug 06 - 03:45 AM

Nevermind. I understand it now.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 12 Aug 06 - 10:32 AM

Get a copy of Oak Publications' Beginning the Folk Guitar by Jerry Silverman. You can pick one up on Ebay. At one time in the 1960s this was the instruction book that everyone used, and the information is just as useful now as it was then. Silverman gives you a really interesting selection of songs to work on instead of the usual beginner stuff.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 12 Aug 06 - 03:05 PM

One question I do still have though: sometimes when I look at pages with the chords to a song (but not the tabs) it'll say something like D/f# or something. What does that mean?


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 Aug 06 - 04:57 PM

That usually means to play a D chord with an F# in the bass. That's harmonically okay, because an F# is a note in the D chord (D F# A).

That sort of notation (chord-symbol, slash, note) is often used to indicate things like a "walking" bass, which is sort of like a bass-run. For example,

D/D - D/C# - D/B - D/A (or A/A).

Here, you would play a D bass (4th string open), strum or pick the top three strings, play a C# (5th string, 4th fret [fret it with the pinky]), strum or pick, play a B (5th string, 2nd fret [fret it with the 1st finger]), strum or pick, then play an open 5th, and strum or pick.

This sort of thing is a lot easier to show that to explain.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Aug 06 - 05:35 PM

I agree with don firth, that it is not all in the right hand. I find with finger picking and particuarly melody picking the left hand is very important, pulloffs, hammer ons, slides, bends,use of additional bass notes based on the pentatonic major scale[ which are executed withthe left hand]. a common mistake that beginners make is to assume that there is only one position for a chord, lets say D major,and not find other inversions .not to work out where modal chords are as awellas minor chords.finally I ADVISE YOU TO MAKE A DIAGRAM OF THE GUITAR FINGERBOARD.and learn where all the individual notes are and where they are repeated in different positions.And then to get some basic music theory, so that you understand the difference between major, modal, minor, chords and why they are different.


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Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 12 Aug 06 - 09:16 PM

IMHO you should also get used at the earliest opportunity to working in alternate tunings, ie Open D (to start with) then Open G, and finally Open C.

Some may say that this would lead to confusion, but not so.

Just as a baby is born with the ability to learn two (or more ) different languages in infancy, so is a beginning guitarist a blank slate on to which can be imprinted many new musical ideas.


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