The Great Ongoing Guitar Thread

Face it, there’s been a lot of guitar threads over the last month or so. Some of us are pro-quality players, some of us (like me) are just starting out again for the third time. And some of us just like to sit around and bullshit.

There’s been a lot of good information in the threads, but eventually they sink to the bottom and vanish. So… let’s just keep this one alive.

My latest news: A: Hal Leonard’s book just wasn’t working for me. But I found one that is. Comes with a DVD, and it really teaches you what you need to know.
Learning Electric Guitar, Patrick McCormick and Greg Douglass.
http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Electric-Guitar-Patrick-McCormick/dp/B000VS6Q68/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1264979647&sr=8-1
Apparently discontinued, I picked it up at a local store, I’m really liking it.
Engaging, tells you what you need to know, gets you started using your whole hand right away. I’m going to pick Bob back up after I finish this, for some better traditional learning, but I want some results to show.

B: There is a thing called a String Winder for when you need to restring and not just tune the guitar. I should get one of those.
http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Waves-String-Winder-Cutter/dp/B0002E1G5C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=musical-instruments&qid=1264979780&sr=8-1
This one has a cutter.

C: there are very small amps for playing in your apartment and not for your neighbors.
http://www.amazon.com/Danelectro-HoneyTone-Amplifier-Beatnik-Burgandy/dp/B000B6DHB2/ref=pd_ybh_4?pf_rd_p=280800601&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_t=1501&pf_rd_i=ybh&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1WVWAQZP6JRP9P9ACXSM
Dunno how good they are. There’s this one and a mini-Marshall I’m looking at.
Anyone have an opinion?

Annd D: I learned that strings have multiple gauges, some heavier than others. They tend to be measured by the high E, so the normal one is .9, but there is .10, .11, and so on.

This causes confusion when you want a B-string and go armed knowing it was a .11… and the music store employee doesn’t know guitars worth a damn either.
How you guys doin?

Are you coming on to me? I’m not hearing a ‘no’.[/Zoidberg]

I think I’ve got that same Hal Leonard book, and I really like it. (It presents things very succinctly, which might be tough for someone starting completely from scratch. I played another instrument in the past, so all the musical notations were already familiar.) I’m almost 1/3 of the way through it. I’ve been focusing on the melody and neglecting the chords, so I’m pushing myself to remedy that.

I’ve got that string winder, too, but the first attempt at restringing was still only mostly successful.

I’ve looked ahead at the barre chords a little bit. Even with all the time in the world, I can barely get my hand to form some of those shapes. I may have to change my playing position a bit, but I don’t think I’ve been at it long enough to have any unbreakable bad habits yet.

I approve of the idea.
I was unaware of the number of guitar threads there were when I made my thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=550053). My apologies to all who thought my idea (pick one guitarist to represent a decade) was convuluted. I’ll post my selections here if I make a new version of my list, but I won’t try to turn this thread into a new version of my own.

I will contribute a recommendation for my favorite youtube guitar lesson channel: discoverguitaronline (also known as dgorocks). The lessons are completely no-nonsense play a phrase or solo at real speed and then in super slow-mo and are surprisingly effective. Also, the guy who records the videos and started a full site is super good and as humble as possible. I asked a question in the comment section of one video and he replied within a matter of hours.

I’ve promised myself I will subscribe to his full site when I actually have some time to really dedicate to practice.

One thing I’ll say, and this is obviously my opinion and different things will work for different people, but there is no substitute for a great guitar teacher. Anyone of any level can benefit from a great teacher, but especially the newbie guitar player.

A great teacher will be all about technique and doing things correctly. I didn’t even “play” guitar for my first month of lessons. (The understanding was that I would in the meantime.) My teacher simply analyzed how I played and made sure I was practicing correctly. I had tried learning on my own for two months prior, and one of the first things he did was have me do a couple chords a completely different way. At the time I was pissed because it had taken a long time to learn the chords, but once I re-learned them, and then had a practical example of why he wanted me to form them a certain way, I understood why. Had I continued with my bad habits (and I had a LOT of bad habits), I would not have progressed as fast or as far on guitar.

A DVD can’t analyze your technique.

Now, having said that, DVDs and Youtube are AWESOME! Especially Youtube. Wanna know how to play that lick? Someone has a vid on how to do it. But my point is to get the fundamentals and proper playing technique down FIRST. If a DVD can help you do that…excellent.

A great book on how to practice anything is The Talent Code. (I have no connection whatsoever to this book…it’s just the way I was taught to practice. There’s nothing new in this book…I was taught this stuff a long time before this book came out.)

I had to stop playing 12 string when I came down with arthritis. 6 string at times was almost impossible. But new advances in RA medications have enabled me to play again, and SWMBO surprised me with a 12 string for Christmas.

I’m relearning how to play 12, and rediscovering what a challenge it is and how much fun it is.

Repeating from the other thread:

Eddie Ate Dynamite. Good Bye Eddie.

So, I’m now somewhat disgusted with the Starcaster’s machine heads and how the frets gouge my hand, and thinking of wandering over to Sam Ash to look at their selection. What should I be asking when I look at a used Strat? I do want to stick with strats. Or a new cheapy one. Not looking to dump more than two fifty for this.

For the people who are just starting out and struggling with chord shapes, I am about a year ahead of you. Here’s my story. Maybe you’ll take some encouragement from it.

I remember first picking up the guitar and having a list of songs in my head “one day, I’ll be able to play that” I told myself. I remember coming down with a huge, frustrating bump when making music on a guitar turned out to be MUCH harder than I expected. “How come the only song I can play is Ode to Joy!!??” “How can I ever change from a G to a C while still strumming??” “How come all my chords buzz??”. I refused to believe that barre chords were even possible.

I seemed to be stuck in that phase for an interminably long time and I lost hope that I would ever be able to play well. Then one day, I sat down with a pile of song books and found that I could play most of them. Not well…just strumming away…but well enough that my wife would recognise what I was playing.

Just like that - Can’t play :(…then suddenly…Can play :).

Sure, I couldn’t play well (still can’t), but suddenly my guitar is tremendous fun and I look forward to practicing at every opportunity. It’s like being able to play crept up on me without me noticing. My wife would say that I am obsessed. For the first time since I started I can imagine that, one day, I will be good at playing guitar and I’ll be able to play all those songs I want to play.

Here’s a quick tip that has helped me break out of beginner mode and into Intermediate. Record yourself.

I had a handful of songs that I thought I could play well but when I tried recording myself with GarageBand, it turned out that I was pretty sloppy. My timing was way off. Forcing myself to play a song well enough to record it and put it up on the internet for my friends to hear has made a dramatic difference in the quality, rhythm and tone of my playing. I get a real sense of achievement. Plus I can go back to songs from just a couple of months ago and hear how much I have improved since then.

Guitarist, record thyself.

Last one before I get on my plane…

I started a thread a little while ago (“Watcha playin’”) with the idea that people would post their current song and compare notes and maybe even a few people at the same level could learn at the same time. (and hear the results, if you record it!)

Nobody bit that time around but I’d like to give it another try…

I am working on Albatross. It’s one of the songs that I thought “Man! If I can play that, I’ll die happy!” which turned, in frustration, into “Man! I will never be able to play that. I am going to die unhappy.”

It’s the most beautiful song that I have ever heard on a guitar and am almost there!

Watcha playin’?

A good low cost strat style guitar is the Yamaha Pacifica series. They have a couple different price points. You can always upgrade the pickups later.

Machine heads can be replaced quite easily - that’s a job you could take on yourself, in fact. Just don’t overtighten and strip the hole.

What, about the frets, is gouging your hand? Are the edges not ground down so that there’s a pokey bit sticking out beyond the plane of the fingerboard’s edge? Or are the frets too high, not rounded enough? A good guitar tech would be able to either modify the existing frets or replace them. I’m thinking in Canadian dollars here, so maybe your $250. would get you a new guitar in the US and that would be more worthwhile for you. Up here, no. If I had a budget limit of $250. I’d be improving what I had, not trying for something different. Your local market may be very different. I wouldn’t take on a fret job, myself, at least not on a guitar that I cared about.

You know how you were saying 'the only thing I could play was ‘Ode To Joy’? Yeah, that. Except the guitar keeps going out of tune halfway through.

You are correct, the edges are not ground down. I intend to use this Starcaster as an… experiment. It really doesn’t look like a bad neck or body. So I’m going to apply a manual rebuild, bit by bit. I have the wood and metalworking talent, god knows. But I’m not going to do that until I have something else to play with.

I’m gonna wander into Sam Ash today, www.samash.com , and I wanted to know, if someone would spend some time looking at their selection, what the differences are between the various strats they have. Looks like all they have are Squier strats, maybe I’m missing something?

There’s the Affinity, Affinity Standard, Standard, Standard Tele… all around the same price.

I think I’m using the same book that the OP didn’t like. There’s a version of Bach’s Minuet in G that’s just about the limit of my current ability.

Oh, I like and respect it, it’s just not working for me.
So I’m going to try something else for a bit, then come back.

If you’re rhythm-challenged, or are learning how to change between, say, open chords, use a metronome. It’ll frustrate the hell out of you at first, but it’s absolutely essential.

Hey, can I join?

Yeah, after I pulled together that list of links in **MwNNrules’s ** thread (you can bet I am saving that one for reference) I was struck by the fact that there are always a few guitar threads going on…

as for how I am doin’ - I am doing well guitar-wise. I have been toying with a couple of changes / upgrades to my set of guitars - if I do, I will chime in and let you know. It would involve selling some First Edition books, so I have to take a deep breath and figure out my options…but the guitars would be really cool. :wink:

in terms of whatcha playin" - I am really just noodling with hybrid picking and slide. I seem to be getting to a place with hybrid picking where I have some “flow” - I can lay down a rhythm and then drop in some lead work and pick back up at the rhythm without any loss of groove. I am extending my playing up and down the neck - really just focused on standard blues in E and A, nothing fancy - but using a flatpick + middle and ring fingers for picking really opens up the fretboard for me.

That’s the essence of my “use GarageBand” advice - I use it as a metronome that can give me feedback on my rhythm.