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Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?

Fumble Fingers 14 Mar 07 - 06:29 PM
Jim Lad 14 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM
katlaughing 14 Mar 07 - 10:49 PM
Bert 14 Mar 07 - 11:07 PM
Songster Bob 15 Mar 07 - 12:03 AM
Bert 15 Mar 07 - 12:06 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 15 Mar 07 - 02:42 AM
Fumble Fingers 15 Mar 07 - 02:56 AM
Jeanie 15 Mar 07 - 03:04 AM
GUEST,Eric 15 Mar 07 - 03:20 AM
Big Al Whittle 15 Mar 07 - 03:35 AM
Scrump 15 Mar 07 - 04:48 AM
JohnB 15 Mar 07 - 05:56 AM
GUEST 15 Mar 07 - 08:16 AM
Roger in Baltimore 15 Mar 07 - 08:17 AM
Grab 15 Mar 07 - 09:16 AM
John Hardly 15 Mar 07 - 09:22 AM
Louie Roy 15 Mar 07 - 09:47 AM
Wesley S 15 Mar 07 - 09:56 AM
Duke 15 Mar 07 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Jim 15 Mar 07 - 10:17 AM
PoppaGator 15 Mar 07 - 06:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Mar 07 - 07:12 PM
Scrump 16 Mar 07 - 06:51 AM
Gulliver 16 Mar 07 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 16 Mar 07 - 04:54 PM
Jeanie 16 Mar 07 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,lox 16 Mar 07 - 07:06 PM
Murray MacLeod 16 Mar 07 - 08:32 PM
Bert 16 Mar 07 - 09:28 PM
Peter T. 16 Mar 07 - 09:59 PM
kerryguy7 16 Mar 07 - 10:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 02:00 AM
Jeanie 17 Mar 07 - 04:38 AM
mrmoe 17 Mar 07 - 07:24 AM
Duke 17 Mar 07 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,joseacsilva 17 Mar 07 - 09:32 AM
MARINER 17 Mar 07 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Jim 17 Mar 07 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 17 Mar 07 - 01:01 PM
Don Firth 17 Mar 07 - 01:56 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 01:58 PM
Murray MacLeod 17 Mar 07 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Sparticus 17 Mar 07 - 03:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Sparticus 17 Mar 07 - 05:05 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Mar 07 - 08:57 PM
GUEST,Jim 18 Mar 07 - 09:14 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Mar 07 - 09:33 AM
Big Mick 18 Mar 07 - 11:35 AM
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Subject: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Fumble Fingers
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 06:29 PM

When I was ten I fell in love with the girl across the street. She was in love with Elvis Presley. So to win her heart, I reckoned I better learn to play guitar too. I learned three chords (about as many as Elvis ever played) but it wasn't enough for her. Alas.

It's fifty years later now, and I'm up to six or seven chords, but no further ahead in terms of winning anyone's heart with my music. Not that that's my plan anymore. Now I just want to play the guitar.

Over the years I've developed some awful habits. When I pick the instrument up now, I'm like a bowling ball falling in the gutter - I can't break out of any of the things I started learning at ten and which prevent me from moving on to new chords, different rhythms, picking, playing the instrument.

Advice, please, Mudcatters.

I have a wailing song a good guitar
But playing it I don't understand
Poor boy

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM

No!

Trust me.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 10:49 PM

According to an episode of Mythbusters which was on tonight, yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.:-)

Look for old guitar threads with postings by the much beloved Mudcatter, the late Rick Fielding...ya can't go wrong following his advice.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Bert
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 11:07 PM

Rick Fielding eh! That bugger still owes me a guitar lesson.

Well Fumble, three chords is all you need, the rest is up to you.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Songster Bob
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 12:03 AM

Breaking old habits is hard to do. My suggestion is to try a technique you know nothing about. If you never finger-pick, learn it. If you haven't tried jazz chords, learn some. Switch to classical, Hawaiian slack-key, bottle-neck, whatever is so far outside your norm that you have to stop the old stuff and learn the new.

If that doesn't work totally, it will at least widen your horizons.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Bert
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 12:06 AM

Good thoughts Bob, I'll have to give that a try.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 02:42 AM

The quickest and best way? Find a good teacher, listen to what they say, and then practice like mad!


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Fumble Fingers
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 02:56 AM

One helpful reply in five isn't bad. Thank-you, Songster Bob.

Guys like Jim Lad aren't so much fun, though. Speaking the truth just isn't popular or fun, Jim. It's why politicians lie to us.

"There must be some way out of here," pleads Fumble Fingers to the City of MudCat. "No, there isn't," says Jim with cynical glee.

Then katlaughing led me to Rick Fielding. It wasn't where I wanted to go with my question because now we'll never get back to guitars and gutter guitar gonzos like me.

Rick's overwhelming generosity of spirit and advice, his kindness and goodness, so takes over searches on MudCat that I can't actually find his guitar advice.

What an amazingly good man he was.

On another thread, "Working on reader of Rick's music tips.." Marion says: "I have had in mind that I should find and put together some of the advice that Rick posted on Mudcat about guitar and other musicianship topics. Having seen some similar suggestions posted, and having discussed it some with Allan C., I've started work on this project with a view to making it publicly available rather than just for my benefit."
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=68181

Marion, how's the project coming along? I need you and Rick, right now. Save me from the "Might as well jump" Jims of the MudCat world.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Jeanie
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 03:04 AM

Funny that this thread should suddenly appear: I find myself in pretty much the same boat, Fumble Fingers ! I've always been mainly the singer in any band or set-up I've been in, and relied on other people to play the "fancy bits", while I cheated and got away with the basics. Never had a lesson before (self-taught from "Bert Weedon's Play a Tune a Day - remember that ??)

Now I have the time to spend, and have been out listening to some fabulous guitar-playing, I've got inspired to improve. Just yesterday I called a guitar teacher from the Yellow Pages, who caught me on the hop by saying I could have my first lesson that very evening ! Had a great time, starting from scratch with scales - and he has put me right on some of my bad habits with fingering of chords. Now looking forward to lots and lots of practice, and my next lesson in two weeks time.

Yes, I would definitely say: find a teacher. It gives you the incentive to practise more.

Cheers !
- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Eric
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 03:20 AM

As a guitar teacher, I have to agree. UNLEARNING is harder than learning. Some never get it, but...BUT!! A habit is just something you do over and over. You can change a habit by trying another habit. Give us more cogent details about how you're stuck, and maybe you'll get more specific answers, but...BUT! The answer is to find a teacher who you admire and follow their direction. Really follow it, and you'll be playing great in no time. GOOD LUCK!


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 03:35 AM

Its pretty much like anything else. Think about what you would like to achieve.

Invest something of yourself in it. Start off with a new guitar. The old one is associated with failure in our mind. The dollars spent say to you - I better make this work.

If there is a tuition dvd of the style that will stretch you. Look for the easiest and offers the first leg up,   rather than the best. Have a chat with someone who is somewhere down the line towards where you want to be. if he says you need a different guitar, start again.

Its all about determination to do whatever is necessary. Have a look at the guys who where you want to be. Take on board what it has cost them to be what they are, and then give it your best shot.

If you work hard at it, and get lucky - you end up, not where the other guys are - but somewhere that's good for you.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Scrump
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 04:48 AM

I find with most types of learning, you need some sort of objective you want to achieve, over and above the learning itself - this may not apply to everyone, but it does to me.

For instance, sometimes I think I'd like to learn a new computer language, but I find it difficult to motivate myself until I think of something I want to use it for. If I have something in mind that I want to achieve, I find it easier to learn, by doing a practical example. In effect, I learn the language by attempting to write something in it, making mistakes and correcting them. At the end, I will hopefully have a pretty good grasp of it, and have achieved what I want.

The point of saying this is that if you hear a tune or song that you'd like to play, you could find out how it's played - it may be in a different tuning, or using chords you don't know, etc. Mudcat is a good place to find out the information you need to get started. Then you can slowly work at it until you can play the tune/song.

That's me rambling on a bit, but I hope it helps a little.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: JohnB
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 05:56 AM

Well Fumble, by my reckoning I'm about 1 1/2 times as good as you are, I peaked at around 15 years old.
Jeanie, do you still play Bobby Shaftoe? it was the first tune I think in my Bert Weedon book.
On a more serious vane, I think Weelittledrummer has a good point about the investment in an expensive instrument. It gives you more incentive to take lessons and PRACTICE, which is what WE really need to do.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 08:16 AM

I never met a dog who could play a guitar
but they might manage some piano with their paws


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 08:17 AM

Fumblefingers,

I'm 60 years old. I think I've learned more about my guitar in the last 5 years than in the prior years. My suggestion is for you to go to HomeSpun Tape's website and pick something you would like to learn. They have lessons on CD's and DVD's. I have found the DVD's very helpful. You can watch and listen and go back over a piece as many times as you wish. Just pick something you would like to learn. Make sure it is at the beginner's level.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Grab
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 09:16 AM

Why get a new guitar when the problem isn't the guitar? You're just going to make the same mistakes on the new one. Say an OK new guitar costs £200. £20 will get you an hour with a novice teacher, or half an hour with a really good one, and one lesson a fortnight is plenty to practise what you've been taught. So for the cost of a new instrument, you've got 5 months worth of lessons. And this is for a pretty cheap instrument. If you're suggesting getting something decent, say £600. Now you're looking at over a year's worth of lessons.

Sure, ask your teacher to check your guitar - it might be that the frets are worn or the action is too high, in which case you might legitimately want to do something about it. Or if you have some condition which makes your guitar harder to play (eg. if you've got small hands or arthritis and your guitar has a wide fretboard). But otherwise, there's no point blaming the tools if you already know you're a poor workman. ;-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: John Hardly
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 09:22 AM

I'm fifty. I've played since I was 11. I don't notice any great difference in my learning curve through the years.

I will say that I wish that when I was 11, I had had all the learning tools that the internet puts at our disposal today. Maybe I'd be answering this differently.


I learned to flatpick within the last ten years. I've learned mandoling within the last 7 years.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Louie Roy
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 09:47 AM

Fumble fingers,yes you can learn new tricks and learn to play the guitar correctly.I've been playing a guitar for over 75 years and the 1st 58 of them was basically by myself and self taught and I learned every bad habit there was to learn.In 1990 I got with a group of old time fiddlers who were excellent musicians and whatever tune they played was by ear and was played correctly with no note left out.The 1st thing I learned with this group there are no short cuts and you put ever chord in the tune when it was suppose to be there and if you didn't you immediately got a lecture and instructions.I learned more the first time I played with this group than I had in the past 58 years.In the past 17 years I have learned to play a guitar correctly and with confidence and I am very comfortable backing up any musician playing old time country western or Cowboy ballads whether I've ever heard the tune the chords are recorded in your ears and you hear them before the fiddler gets to them.Give it a try and you'll find you are netter than you think


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Wesley S
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 09:56 AM

One thing that improved my playing a lot was to play with other people. Then I wasn't playing the same old chords, songs and rhythms. Also - another vote for Homespuntapes.com - I love their stuff. But a real live human being of a teacher would be the best solution. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Duke
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 10:06 AM

I sure hope old dogs can learn new tricks! I was a fair picker in my youth, but over the years I grown lazy about playing. A nephew, who I taught to play, showed me up a couple of weeks ago and I decided to go back at the guitar with a vengence. As Roger in Baltimore says, homespuntapes.com is a great place to help. I ordered two dvd's and by the time they get up to Canada they cost a pretty penny, I must say. So fumblefingers, we better be able to learn new tricks or I'm out a bunch of dough. :-)


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 10:17 AM

You're never too old FF. I'll be 63 next week and I'm still learning.

By the way, i saw an interview with James Burton once and he mentioned seeing Elvis playing some very impressive blues guitar in a green room. He asked him why he didn't do that for his shows and Elvis said,"Folks don't want to see me play the guitar, they want to hear me sing."


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 06:52 PM

If you like homespuntapes, you'll also find Stephan Grossman's lessons similarly helpful.

I'm a bit prejudiced in Stephan's favor because I learned most of my technique from his books, way back in the 60s before the advent of audio tapes, then videotapes, and now DVDs. I've seen a few of his latter-day lessons on DVD, and am impressed. (I was able to learn things from his more advanced lessons, on ragtime/bles picking, that were too hard for me to "get" from the books.)

Grossman's company offers lessons from other people as well as SG himself, including the late great Dave Van Ronk.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 07:12 PM

Stefan is a good case in point. Like everyone I learned a lot from the record How to Play Blues Guitar.

When I got his next book contemporary ragtime guitar , there were a lot of phoygraphs and after trying for around 6 months at least - I suddenly realised that my fingers weren't slender enough and long enough for most of the pieces in that book.

At that point you have to take stock of what you have learned - maximise it, then move on. You don't stop. You move on. Look around at other approaches to the guitar. There are so many wonderful guitarists. Be a magpie. Pick up as many bits and pieces as you like and you think you'd like to use.

System is the enemy of creativity.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Scrump
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 06:51 AM

One thing that improved my playing a lot was to play with other people. Then I wasn't playing the same old chords, songs and rhythms.

I'll second that. And go to see live gigs by people you like, or would like to be able to imitate, in terms of how they play. I've picked up a lot of tips that I could put into practice in my own playing, simply by carefully watching other guitarists and working out how they do things.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Gulliver
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:40 PM

I'll third that. A couple of years ago I started playing for patients in a multiple sclerosis care centre and playing with others and in front of people really made me sharpen up my act and learn new songs and chords.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:54 PM

I think educational dvds etc are great once you can play a bit, but nothing can replace a good teacher sitting by your side and demonstrating the correct way to do things - and tell you when you get it wrong!


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Jeanie
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 06:39 PM

JohnB: oh yes, "Bobby Shaftoe" in the Bert Weedon book - I remember !I also used to spend hour upon hour singing "There was blood on the saddle, and blood on the ground, and a great big puddle of blood all around" - the lyrics appealed to me greatly at the time - but I don't think that one came from good old Bert and his book. I think Bert was rather more genteel :)

Anyway, back to the subject: There's lots of great advice here, and I reckon a combination of ALL of it is a good way to proceed. I think anything and everything that gives you the impetus and incentive to sit down and practise and play and have fun trying out new things has got to be good. It all then becomes a "virtuous circle".

I totally agree with the past few posters about going out and watching as many good people play as you can. The incentive for me to seek out my first ever guitar lesson this week was a combination of recently hearing some excellent guitar playing that made me think "Coo, I want to do that !", and hearing a beautiful song that made me think "I've just GOT to learn that one !"

I agree, too, with what people have said about having the incentive of wanting get the song/tune up to "paying public" performance standard. I beg to differ, though, about playing with other people always being such a good thing. As I said in my earlier post, whenever I have played guitar (in public) it has always been in bands/duos, where the others have played the "fancy bits" either on guitar or mandolin, and I've rather relied on them and just generally been allowed to get away with things. I'm coming back into this after a very long gap of only messing about on guitar at home, and I am faced with the alternative of mainly performing unaccompanied songs and being embarrassed about my really rather basic guitar accompaniments OR improving my guitar playing. So my incentive is actually the fact that I WILL be performing on my own.

The best thing is definitely to find a teacher. I've been practising my scales, because I know he's going to know if I haven't ! He's going to be watching like a hawk, too, to see that I get my fingering correct: I really need to be put right.

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 07:06 PM

Have you ever had a lesson?
Learned to read music/tab?
Learned any theory?

In your "1 helpful reply in 5 ..." post, you neglecteed to recognize the value of tunesmiths advice, which in my opinion was the best.

If after 40 years you haven't been able to crack it on your own, then maybe the time has come to swallow your pride and ask someone else to show you.

Of course we're all in the folk scene and people just love to boast about how they taught themselves as it somehow lends them more folk credibility.

But it takes a rare and talented iindividual to learn a musical instrument without guidance of some sort.

We've all had our mentors and guides in some form or other.

Being able to play comes from knowledge of your instrument, and consequently of music.

Much as you might wish it, these two essential factors will never be beamed into your intuition from the cosmos. They need to be learned and worked at.

Of course you can learn it if you want to. You need to be realistic about how much work you must do and how your playing is going to sound for a while.

Learning is incremental and you have to see it as a long term and ever growing process.

what did you expect?

Would you like to be able to play all that challenging stuff you admire so much?

Well crack on then. The time is now and every day is a new opportunity.

Ring round a few teachers and find one who you feel comfortable with - reputations aren't too hard to unearth either. Talk to the guys at your local guitar shop and find out who's hot and who's not.

Go to a shop that sells sheet musicfor kids and ask who they recommend.

Find a teacher that specialises in a type of music/playing that you are into so you don't waste time boring yourself with stuff that sucks all the drive out of you. You might end up going off the guitar because of having a bad teacher.


etc etc etc - hope I've been of help.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 08:32 PM

lots of advice here, some valuable, and some not so valuable.

I would like to give you just one piece of advice, whether you are fingerpicking or flatpicking.

That advice is: under no circumstances rest your pinkie on the soundboard while picking

There will be howls of outrage here, and countless references to great guitar players, both fingerpickers and flatpickers, who do rest their pinkies on the soundboard (and I am aware of this, I have seen them perform) but the fact is that these same players would have been so much better if they had learned to play without resting their pinkies on the soundboard.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Bert
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 09:28 PM

That Roger in Baltimore is telling fibs. When I heard him, a few years back, he was bloody good.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 09:59 PM

Learn some music theory! figure out the notes in the chords, and start linking the notes to the chords, and you will have more than 6 or 7 chords. The worst thing about chords/tabs is you can get stuck on the standard patterns forever.   



yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: kerryguy7
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 10:02 PM

Best of luck to you Fumble Fingers.
I'm 54 years old and, just like you, I'm just learning to play guitar also.
I certainly can't give you any advice but if you ever want to "compare notes", as they say...or just shoot the breeze feel free to pm me at any time.
There certainly are a great bunch of folks around here that do offer some well needed advice as well as encouragement.
Who knows...maybe we "old dogs" can learn some new tricks and form a band of our own? :)
Best of luck!!!


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 02:00 AM

'The best thing is definitely to find a teacher. I've been practising my scales, because I know he's going to know if I haven't ! He's going to be watching like a hawk, too, to see that I get my fingering correct.'

Jeanie, if he turns up in a rubber mask and says, he might spank girls who do naughty fingering - I think you should suspect his motives.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Jeanie
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 04:38 AM

Weelittledrummer: Hee hee hee ! No, I have nothing to worry about on that score ! But NOW, every time I play Am and G (which is where I've been getting my fingers in a "naughty" twist these past 40 years) I will forevermore hold that image indelibly in my mind and collapse into a helpless giggling, grinning wreck, thus ruining any fond hopes of a comeback as a folk superstar....

- jeanie ;)


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: mrmoe
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:24 AM

I'd settle for (re) learning the old tricks!....I started playing guitar when I was 16....a few years later I started playing professinally and continued for 20 years....in the last years, I worked for a restaurant chain in the northeast US which often meant 5 nights a week...the fingertips on my left hand could cut glass (always medium gauge strings) and my right hand managed a flat pick in ways that still amaze me...when I quit, I QUIT!.....put the guitars down for 15 years...I've just in the past 5 years or so learned to play for enjoyment....sure wish my hands would return....


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Duke
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:36 AM

I was interested in the advice given by Murray MacLeod to "under no circumstances rest your pinkie on the soundboard while picking". I've never been able to do that and I've tried many times. My unique method is (I play mostly with thumb and one finger) to cup my fingers around the top E string and remove them when I want to play the string. Strange? Of course it is, but it works for me.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,joseacsilva
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 09:32 AM

Hi Fumble Fingers.I´m too, fan of Homespun Tapes. Have talked by email with Mr Happy Traum, who owns this wonderfull Video school, which resides in New York, and he´s a nice person and he , himself, has great videos for begginers(levels 1 or 2).As you improve I suggest Doc Watson´s and Thom Bresh´s videos, Great stuff.If you like blues, Jorma Kaukonen´s DVDs are very good too.BTW, another option are Guitar Camps.I´ve recently returned from Jorma´s FurPeace Ranch(Ohio), and it is a very friendly place(Group was from 40 to 73 years old), good Jams, and Jorma was a great instructor.Anyway never stop playing.
cheers
Jose


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: MARINER
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 10:25 AM

I'm 62 and left handed ,for many years i attempted to learn a righthanded 5 string banjo, all to no avail . Recently I picked up a cheap, Tanglewood ,lefthanded 5 string and am making yet another attempt to come to grips with playing . To help me I bought Happy Traum's beginners DVD and it's beginning to take shape, but very slowly. I find Happy's DVD very helpful ,But my old fingers ain't as supple as they used to be. But, hopefully persistance will pay off for me and for you too, if you stick at it.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 11:04 AM

Murray MacLeod advised,"Under no circumstances rest your pinkie on the soundboard while picking."

I'm afraid I'm one of the "howls of rage" he predicted. I do not criticize him for keeping his hand un-anchored, but I don't think letting my pinky glide over the pick-guard while I'm flat-picking is a hinderance. I also keep my pinky anchored to the pick guard when I'm playing three finger style guitar (Travis/Cotton picking) or Scruggs style banjo. I feel this gives me a referance point. I do play with a free hand when I'm playing arpeggio-style or Bossa Nova with four fingers.

How can anyone know that Chet Atkins or Dan Crary would have been better players if they'd played with an unanchored hand?


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 01:01 PM

Of course, in bluegrass banjo, the standard way of playing involves resting at least one right hand finger on the skin (i.e. top).


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 01:56 PM

Bits and chunks of good advice here. And some not so good. "Get thee to a good teacher" is one of the better bits.

I have to agree with Murray here about not anchoring the pinky. I know a lot of people do it, but it's still not a good idea. Cautionary tale:   Back in the early 1960s I met a young gal—she was eighteen—who played some darn fine guitar and could sing like an angel. She was from the Los Angeles area and had been taking classic guitar lessons since she was fourteen. Her teacher in Los Angeles was associated with the Romero family. In addition to playing some fairly impressive classic pieces, she had a good (and growing) repertoire of folk songs and ballads, and her accompaniments where clean and interesting. As far as folk techniques and styles were concerned, she could watch somebody play and after a few minutes of experimenting, she could do what they were doing.

Okay, flash forward to the 1980s. She wanted to learn some alternating bass fingerpicking, which she hadn't tried before. Instead of just having someone who knew how show her a few patterns to work on and figure out the rest on her own—which is the way I learned to do it—she attended a week-long guitar workshop and had several private sessions with a well-known fingerpicker. He (who, incidentally, couldn't do anything but fingerpick) insisted that she anchor her pinky. She played a lot of stuff that way for quite a while and got use to resting her little finger on the soundboard for everything.

She lost all the classic stuff she used to play, and there are a whole bunch of other things that she used to do on the guitar that she can't do anymore because they require a free right hand. I suggested that she go back to the way she used to play, but she complains now that her right hand feels "insecure" unless she braces her little finger on the soundboard.

This convinced me that anchoring the pinky qualifies as a bad habit.

Don Firth

P. S. Prepare for more howls. . . .


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 01:58 PM

you just wait guest Jim!

before long your willy will turn green and drop off, and dandelions will sprout out from your navel, and the sheep in the surrounding fields will develop foot rot and warts

Murray warned you, but you were too clever to listen to his words of sagacity.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 03:16 PM

From: GUEST,Jim - PM
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 11:04 AM

How can anyone know that Chet Atkins or Dan Crary would have been better players if they'd played with an unanchored hand?




green willies and sheep blight will be the least of guest Jim's worries if he maligns any more of my guitar heroes.

Jim, Dan Crary is the very epitome of the unanchored flatpicker. If you don't believe me, take a look at This video and pay particular attention to the breaks at 1.06 and 1.30, no anchored pinky there, my friend.

Nor will you ever see Doc Watson anchoring the pinky, either fingerpicking or flatpicking.

Je repose ma valise.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Sparticus
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 03:30 PM

I am also in the "old dog" club. My first guitar teacher had the temperament of an Irish Red Setter and the first thing he asked me was how I regarded my own playing. Rough, I replied.
The bulldog spirit prevailed and I spent every available moment practising. Friends remarked that I was like a dog at a bone but it paid off and people say my playing is the dogs' b***ocks.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 03:56 PM

never really understood that saying....do dogs come and sniff your guitar, try to lick it....or doesn't the metaphor extend that far?


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Sparticus
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 05:05 PM

Don't be flippant, weelittledrummer, every dog has his day!
We all, metaphorically, mark our territory to warn off intruders but no, I've never had dogs come and sniff my guitar, or lick it. One or two have tried to shag it though.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 08:57 PM

"System is the enemy of creativity. "

There is an old saying that good Computer Systems People try to remember...

"Growth creates Structure - Structure inhibits Growth"


... just look at any tree...


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:14 AM

Murray,
   Is my face red! I've attended workshops and concerts by Dan since the early seventies and never noticed that he was unanchored.
   I don't own a computer, I'm at a cafe right now, but after my last post I went home and examined how I play. I guess I don't really anchor the pinky, but it does touch the pick guard and kinda glides over it sometimes.
   But just think how good Doc and Dan (and Segovia)would've been if they'd learmed how to anchor their pinkies...just kidding.


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:33 AM

so no customers for the John Dunlop pinkie anchor.....?


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Subject: RE: Guitar: can an old dog learn tricks?
From: Big Mick
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 11:35 AM

Of course you can. Ignore the lout making the gratuitous assertions. He thinks his word is gospel.

I liked the advice to start learning by taking up a technique that is unrelated to doing what you do now. Seems as though it would be harder to break old habits than to learn new ones. As you learn new techniques,they should lead to modifications in old ones.

But don't let anyone tell you that you can't learn new techniques or even break old habits. It is a matter of setting your mind to it and practice, practice, practice. Rick Fielding used to sit with me and draw different chord charts. His style, and he encouraged me to follow it, was to always have a guitar around. If you are just sitting watching TV, do so with the guitar in hand just making the same chord shape, or picking technique (alternating thumb for example). He felt that the real impediment was muscle memory, and the only cure for that was repetition.

Good luck, and happy picking,

Mick

Mick


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