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Two Months into Learning Guitar

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Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 10
Topic starter  

Hello all. I have been reading the forum for the past couple of days and it has been both comforting and inspiring. I am 35 years old and have just started with the guitar. It has been a frustrating and exhilirating experience. I have focused mostly on learning C, G, D, and Em chords and can move (most of the time) between them. My next step is to focus on the right hand and strumming, finger picking, etc. Is that the best way to proceed?

I am a high school teacher and have found many students to give me tips about playing...not to mention the teacher band. It is my hope that by the time I teach American Literature in the spring that when I get to The Things They Carried, a great novel on the Vietnam War, I can play a few Dylan songs.

I'm looking forward to more posts. Time to correct some papers and play a little guitar.

Chris C
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3454

Hi and welcome.

You're well on the way to those Dylan songs. Good path to choose as he wrote a lot of great songs with reasonably basic chords.

In my opinion, developing the right hand is absolutely the way to go. You can play hundreds of good songs with the chords you already know, but not unless you've got a capable right hand. I'd say that's where the timing, rhythm, expression, individuality etc lives and you can never stop building more skills and artistry into your strumming/picking hand (apologies to lefties for my 'rightist' post!). Discovering that you've just busted a gut for weeks/months to learn some chords with your left hand, but still sound nothing like the original songs because you still have a useless right hand is probably one of those inevitable "rites of passage" moments in guitar. It was for me anyway. Best of luck. :)



Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 10
Topic starter  

Thanks for the input. I plan on concentrating on the right hand now and then after I have made some progress there, work on more chords.

Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3

Great book btw, loved O'Brien in high school (my history teacher was a vet and loved his stuff).

Agree with getting the strumming hand trained up - I had a break through about a year into playing when messing around with House of the Rising Sun. Am, C, D, F, C, Am - Am, C, D, F, C, Am, E.... most people consider this a great beginner finger-picking song (which it is) but I found that once I could move b/t the chords quickly I could mess with the tempo and rythym patters.

Good luck - breakthoughs come at funny times - but so do plateaus :wink:

PS - you'll have no problem with some Dylan by spring (Watchtower and Tangeled Up in Blue are a couple that I found easy at the beginning).

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 108

I just started last year when I was 34. Same as you, I started learning basic open position chords, but I started to learn fingerpicking almost right away. The first song I learned was Blackbird. I didn't start learning "EZ" songs until a few months later because I just thought they were boring.

Trusted Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 34

I also started last year at 34yrs old, now 35 and I just started taking lessons. I learned the chords but just could not get myself over a learning hump. I've only had one lesson but It really helped and I think I will finally get over my hump and hopefully start getting comfortable.

Welcome, Good luck and have fun.

Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 189

Well I am 43 - 10 months into learning guitar - and the classic folk songs are the greatest! They are meant to be played - not the same old version on the radio - but live - in schools, in the park, at potluck dinners. That's how other people get excited about learning to play guitar. It's a big happy circle.
For example, I really wanted to learn "Mr. Bojangles" - mostly cuz I remember learning to sing this in school (back in the early 70's!) from such a musically inclined teacher and it really is a beautiful song. Bojangles doesn't always lightly touch down in my hands but it is a work in progress.....
Anyway, I do suggest you try "Horse With No Name" in the Easy Lessons section, first because it does teach you strumming rhythm and then the second lesson shows you how to improvise a bit with some fingerpicking - all with two two-finger chords (and one of them is E minor!), so you can really focus on the right hand.
Then try out the next lesson, "Simple Plan", you know, the song about the Kent State University massacre. Because it is only 2 chords also, I like to dress it up by picking out a bit of the melody, say, to start the chorus. This is a classic A pentatonic blues pattern (which means it comes in handy down the road) starting with 3rd fret on the top E string (i.e. G), then the open string, then 3rd fret on the B string, then open, then keep working your way down using the second fret on the next 2 strings, finishing on E (2nd fret, D string). Sorry, I am a non-generator of TAB, but if you know the song, you will recognize the riff if you try it.
I also like "Knocking on Heaven's Door" which is detailed elsewhere on this website, but it took me about 6 months to get enough speed and coordination to do the suggested improvise between the strummed lines of verse.
Hope that helps!

What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it's really all about?

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