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Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 99
Topic starter  

Hi again guys ... I'm after more advice.

I've been playing acoustic guitar regularly now for a couple of years and can competently play a number of chords (not sure how many but I would guess 20-40). On top of that I have spent the last few months practicing scales and although I would not describe myself as good - I do see significant improvement.

Now as some of you may know from previous posts I am a keen English folk music fan but the trouble is that most folk song assumes that the person singing has a decent voice. I on the other hand sound like Kermit after a bad case of tonsilitis. Indeed it is a victory if in any one song I am not flat on a single note! Consequently accompanying myself on the guitar is neither fun nor a pleasure. Unfortunately the option of playing jigs, reels etc is largely out of the question as they require a) pretty fast chord changes and I am not that fast; and b) a decent understanding of DADGAD (or other tunings) and I want to get my head round the intricacies of standard tuning before I go forward.

In an effort to resolve my problem of what to do if you can't sing for toffee I started to learn fingerpicking which has been great fun and a huge challenge (I can now do a passable Greensleeves, House of the Rising Sun a few little riffs and a mediocre Spancill Hill) however my progress is appallingly slow and I seem to need to practice every night for weeks before I can get the basics of even one song.

Am I pushing myself too hard (I am 54 and desperate to become a competent leisure guitarist so I practice for 2+ hours every night and more on the weekends)? Should I concentrate on one aspect of the guitar at a time (say scales)? Ought I develop a larger vocabulary of chords before I go fingerpicking? Should I leave DADGAD alone for the time being? Oh and while I am about it does anyone know the meaning of life .... :-)

What did the guitarist do when he was told to turn on his amp?
He caressed it softly and told it that he loved it.

Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 323

Ahhhhhhhhhh the meaning of was 42 wasn't it?

I am pretty much in your boat can't sing tried fingerpicking and it also takes me weeks of practicing to get nowhere ! :D

Try here go to ONLINE BLUES GUITAR LESSONS and "BUY" "Dead Thumb Blues Lesson - Price 12.95 US"

It is 3 lessons for the one price...Lots of people here are students of Little Brother aka Doug Jones his lessons are very good value and when you buy a lessons you get access to his Private Members Forum where he often post lots of free stuff to help us along..


I know a little bit about a lot of things, but not a lot about anything...
Looking for people to jam with in Sydney Oz.......

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3636

It sounds like you are doing everything correctly.

I wonder what would happen if you walked away from the guitar and rigid practice routine for a few days.

I've found that I come back with a revived vigor and different approach. Just a thought. Good luck. I wish I would put myself under my thumb and work on finger picking.


"I play live as playing dead is harder than it sounds!"

Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973

Welshman, you already have enough chords to fingerpick lots of songs, especially as your interest is folk, which uses fewer chords than most other styles.

Don't bother with DADGAD tuning for now - get to know standard tuning thoroughly.

And don't make scales a priority. They're not particularly relevant to your style. But do yourself a favour and learn about the major scale and how all chords can be constructed from it.

And yes - KBlake's right - It's 42 :lol:

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1468

I was/am in your exact shoes and what i've done is to take voice lessons. that way i can improve my so-called repetoire. so for the few simple songs that i can play, i'll be able to both sing and play at around the same level, however low that level is. i feel at some point, i don't quite know when, but when i feel i have "enough" simple songs down, i'll continue to try to raise my level and go on to new things. until then, i'm pretty stuck right here.

Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 493

I'm with Bish....your pressuring yourself...take a small break...let your mind absorb the new stuff....go away and listen....thats LISTEN to what you want to play....learning is almost Zen like sometimes :?

what did the drummer get on his I.Q. test?....


Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 103

you're just old. Just kidding. :lol:

I had the same predicament. I thought it might take years to learn just one song. Well, not quite, took me two months (or more) to complete my first finger-picking tune from start to finish; however, after all that trial, error, and fun the new songs I try to pick up now are a bit less complicated.
from where I sit, it sounds as if you are doing it right as far as approach and practice. Just give it time.

BTW if you know all those chords, I am pretty sure that makes you a fairly competent leisure guitarist. Unless you have loftier goals in mind. If singing does not bring you pleasure...don't do it. I was singing in a band long before I picked up the guitar. eventually the voice goes and we all sound like Kermit the frog, or worse the Chef:lol: , or Beeker :shock: