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(@joeyfivethumbs)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 27
Topic starter  

I have been lurking these forums for a month and finally took the plung. I got a fender starcaster starter kit, yes the cheap package :D This is my first venture into guitar playing, so i couldn't justify spending more than $200. I do plan on sticking with it though, so maybe in a year who knows. I am 36 and always loved all kinds of music, but my favorite is the blues(John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, SRV...love em all.

Now the first issues I am running into:
My guitar just doesn't sound good. I don't mean my horrid playing or terrible amp, but those do add to it. I don't think it is tuned correctly. The kit came a chromatic tuner that is just a little more than useless IMO. Can anyone give me some tips on how to use it or point me to an inexpensive electric tuner that works better? I don't expect to this guitar to sound great, but having it properly tuned is good enough for me to learn.

Secondly, I have been poking around for sometime looking at different websites and youtube. I don't have immediate plans to take lessons, but it isn't out the realm of possibility either. So I am looking for some system to get started. I have my eyes on a beginner blues book from the "House of Blues". So far i have tried a couple scales, a few chords... Any pointers would be most appreciated.

Third, are there any exercises I can do to stretch out my fingers. All of the chords I have tried "feel" terrible. I especially have problems where I need to spread my fingers across 3 frets.

Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read this. I have lurked around at some other guitar sites, but this community seems to be the most supportive. Hope to hear from some of you.


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(@beaner)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 122
 

Hiya,

You're about the same age as me and I am just returning to playing after a very long break.

Regarding the guitar, do you know how the strings are supposed to be tuned? That is the order, fat string to thin string EADGBE, and have you tuned them to the right pitches, not just the right note. If you want to check, try http://www.chordbook.com/guitartuner.php . If it is in tune and your are still not happy with the sound, return with it to the store and let them check it for you. Most 'reputable' places will want you to be happy with your purchase. If you bought it mail order, then ask around your friends and see if someone knows someone who plays, and see if they can have a look at it for you.

If you can't afford lessons but want to get started, try searching for Justin Sandercoe on YouTube, he has some great starter lessons. He also has a website http://www.justinguitar.com . He really has built up a great following amongst most levels of players. The lessons here are good, but there is something about video that really nails it for a lot of us. You can still come back and ask questions of course.

With regards to finger stretching and bad sounding chords, you are going to hear this a lot, but it really is just practice, practice and practice. You are just going through all the things that all of us went through. It all feels unnatural at first but it comes together slowly. Practice daily. Not for long, 5 minutes will be enough at first, but do it daily.

Just my opinions and I hope they help. BTW, where are you?

Regards,
Paul


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(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 168
 

Another late-30-something beginner here.

A better tuner might help - look for one made by Boss or Korg. Get the one with a metronome built in (you'll want that too) and it will cost about $30. Even without a tuner, you should be able to tune by ear to a good sound with practice. here are some instructions. You should plan on re-tuning every time you pick up the guitar - cheap guitars need tuning more often.

You might also want to re-string your guitar with new strings. I don't know what strings are on it or how long they have been stored, but new ones will probably sound better and stay in tune better. Your guitar probably came with strings in the .009-.042 size, and I'd get the same size for now.

There are some good video lessons at next level guitar - They charge a monthly fee but you can get a free pass to try it out for a few days. He rambles a bit but there's some great content there. There are also some finger exercises that might help. I paid for a few months there before I started taking lessons with a local teacher.

On Youtube, look for lessons from "rockongoodpeople" (Next Level Guitar), "JustinSandercoe", "lazyfret", and "beefcakejcc". Tons of good stuff.

As for the rest, Beaner is right, it just takes time... I've been at it for about 3 months. At the beginning stretching my fingers into a G chord felt painful and I couldn't finger a C chord correctly to save my life. Now those two are no problem and the pain comes from things like C-shaped barre chords.

Being a blues fan will make the guitar very rewarding for you... just learn a blues scale pattern or two and you can improvise to your favorite blues songs. I've had lots of fun doing that.

You've definitely found the best guitar community, I'm glad I found it too. Best of luck!


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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

hey man, welcome to the forum. you will like it here.
I will just add one thing. when tuning be sure your guitar volume knob is full up. that way the signal is big and the tuner will read it accurately. it makes tuning one step easier.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@dennisf6)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 74
 

I am also a middle aged (upper middle aged in my case) blues fan that started with the Starcaster kit (about 1 3/4 years ago).
They have changed the tuner since I bought mine but I really doubt that is the problem for you.
I highly recommend taking your guitar to a shop and getting a professional setup. That should run you about $50 but it will most likely make the guitar sound better, play easier, and provide you with the peace of mind knowing that any unpleasant sounds are due to beginner fingers and not your guitar.

I have the House of Blues Level 1 Blues Guitar DVD. I would not recommend it to a complete beginner.
Your Starcaster kit should have included a DVD that gets you started on basic chords. Other than that, there are good lessons on this site. I also second Beaner's recommendation of Justin Sandercoe's site - the "Solo Blues" lesson is something you might be able to play in a month or two and is very satisfying to a blues fan.

If possible, a few lessons to get you started is also a very good idea.

I want to play guitar very badly -
and I do!


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(@joeyfivethumbs)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 27
Topic starter  

Wow, thank you all for the replies. I have checked out a lot of the resources you guys have suggested. There have been some others that recommended having a local guitar shop "setup" my guitar. There are videos of people jamming on a Starcaster, so I know it can sound decent.

I am not opposed to getting lessons either, its just more of a timing issue for me right now. Maybe when schedule settles down I will look into them.

Beaner, I am in California.

Thanks again for all the replies and help.


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

Hey! Welcome to the site! Everyone has covered things so well but I just have to add .......... I'm a geezer, turned 47 last week, but I have been playing for 30 years. Boy are my arms tired! (Had to say that or Ricochet would have) Anyhow, my point, I played a Starcaster at my local Sams Club, because it was there and I can't help myself when I see a guitar, and I was impressed. The guitar played well and the little amp had a nice tone for a starter amp. Keep at it, you will have a lot of fun and it will sound good with time and practice.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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(@joeyfivethumbs)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 27
Topic starter  

So I have been trying different things for a few days now, a beginner lesson here and there, a couple chords, working to the blues pentatonic. I am waiting until after Christmas until I get into some sort of real program, either lessons, online, book... So I decided I need a nice beginner song to work at and a friend suggested Jingle Bell Rock, perfect. However the second chord is a Dmaj7, are you kidding??? If it is the chord they show on this website , http://www.chordbook.com/guitarchords.php , then I am toast. I cannot physically get my fingers in that position, there is no way!!! Can replace this chord with another please?


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(@beaner)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 122
 

Can replace this chord with another please?

Sure, try just a regular D7 chord. That should be within your abilities.

Regards,
Paul


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4485
 

D7 will sound a lot different than Dmaj7, so you do want to go with the Dmaj7. Fortunately, you don't have to do all those contortions. All you need is to cover the second fret on the first three string and leave the D and A strings open. Don't play the low E. This is how most people play the chord anyway.

Hope this helps.

Peace


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(@joeyfivethumbs)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 27
Topic starter  

Dude! That is huge. Maybe I won't have to throw my guitar away now :-)


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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5492
 

You'll find it easier after some time (6 mos to 2 years? everyone is different) to do that chord the way it said on the website. Fingers will get more nimble and stronger....

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@beaner)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 122
 

I Just tried those chords both ways. I can play most of the inversions on Chordbook but I'll playing the X00222 one from now on.

Regards,
Paul


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(@g-man64)
New Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4
 

I like different types of music. Will I be able to play anything from my lessons or do I have to take lessons for each style of music?


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(@aluth23)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8
 

Also a newbie, i found this free online tuner program for your computer. http://www.aptuner.com/cgi-bin/aptuner/apmain.html free to use, i also picked up a chord book from best buy,

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=7846762&st=guitar&lp=10&type=product&cp=1&id=1142300579037

has every chord you could ever image, a tab chart of the chord, then a real photo of someone actually having real fingers in the right position ( i find this very helpful with the visual thing) The other nice thing is i can get out from behind my computer and sit outside (yeah its still in the 70's in NC) and tinker. Just some things that have been helping me out, along with this forum!

And I'm just fine with all my time
To live until I die~B.C.


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