learning to play guitar for the first time

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alongwaltz
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learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by alongwaltz » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:26 am

I can't play any instruments. Neither can my friend. But we're tired of being the only people not in bands so we're going to rent a couple electric guitars from a local music shop and make it happen. However we know next to nothing about anything.

1) How do I decide which guitar to get?

2) Should we go with lessons through the music shop or try to convince a friend to teach us?

3) Any other advice?

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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by roundbitsofplastic » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:04 am

alongwaltz wrote:I can't play any instruments. Neither can my friend. But we're tired of being the only people not in bands so we're going to rent a couple electric guitars from a local music shop and make it happen. However we know next to nothing about anything.

1) How do I decide which guitar to get?

2) Should we go with lessons through the music shop or try to convince a friend to teach us?

3) Any other advice?
I can't really play guitar major chords and stuff. Getting proper lessons might involve theory and stuff, so it might be better just to ask a friend. Or to watch any of the billions of instructional videos on youtube.

As for a guitar, I think one of the most important things is the width of the neck, depending on your hand size. Electric guitars are easier to learn on because the strings are, like, I dunno, they just take less effort to make em do what you want. though there's always the option of a nylon strung guitar, I suppose.

Ummmmmmm. Practicing little and often, even for like 15 mines a day will probably do you the world of good in between lessons from a friend or the shop.

Says he who can't play guitar.

Good luck!
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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by tompony » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:23 pm

roundbitsofplastic wrote:As for a guitar, I think one of the most important things is the width of the neck, depending on your hand size. Electric guitars are easier to learn on because the strings are, like, I dunno, they just take less effort to make em do what you want. though there's always the option of a nylon strung guitar, I suppose.
This is definitely the key! It will be a lot easier to practice if the guitar is easy to play, so a fairly narrow neck and "low action" (i.e. the strings don't have to be pushed down that far to make a clean sound) will help massively. Electric guitars are naturally better for this, my hands still hurt if I have to play acoustic for any length of time, and I've been playing for years!

I would say try a few guitars (if you have options when renting), and see which ones are the easiest to get your hands around and hold strings down. This will be especially helpful when you move onto barre chords.

When I started playing I got my Dad to show me a few chords and then learned on my own for a few years. I tried lessons after that but (as Ray says) they focused a lot on theory and stuff that wasn't really relevant to what I wanted to play, but I guess this will vary from teacher to teacher. I definitely think it's worth learning from a friend and from chord sheets to songs you love though as that will be more fun and hence easier to continue with than learning endless scales and bad rock songs. Not that there isn't a place for bad rock songs!

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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by paukl » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:27 pm

Ray is spot on, the most important thing is to get a guitar that doesn't hurt to play.

They're all gonna hurt initially, your wrist will ache a bit and your fingers will hurt where you're pressing down the strings, but don't worry too much about that, it goes away pretty fast.

I learned by working out Nevermind front to back, never had a lesson in my life. I'm not joking when I say half the time I don't know what chord or note I'm playing, I just sorta know where on the fret board I'm supposed to be to fit in with everything else or to replicate the noise I hear in my head, after a while it just becomes instinctual.

My main piece of advice is just to stick with it, try to practice every day. If you get into it that won't be a problem, more likely the issue will be having to make yourself stop practising! The first time you strum out a chord sequence that ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE A REAL SONG YOU LIKE... man, it's good times :)

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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by bulgariandisco » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:17 pm

What they said, really. Unless you really want to learn 'properly' then I'd not bother with lessons; a teacher will make you play the blues scale until you lose the will to live. If you want to learn to play indiepop, get a chord book, try out the shapes and play along with your favourite records.

I learned pretty much everything I know (which is not enough, sadly, but I'm lazy) by playing along to 'George Best' by the Wedding Present (lots of open chords like G, C, D, E) and 'Singles Going Steady' by Buzzcocks (great for barre chords). Once you know a major and minor barre shape you can play along with most things. Learning the shapes is easy enough; really it's the speed of changing between chords that makes the difference between sounding terrible or adequate, and that comes down to practice.

Not sure why you would rent a guitar. You can pick up a squire telecaster or whatever pretty cheap and then it's yours. Oh, and you decide which one to get by looking in the mirror when you're wearing it, that's vitally important! Just avoid anything in a luminous colour with a pointy headstock.

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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by leon » Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:17 pm

bulgariandisco wrote:Oh, and you decide which one to get by looking in the mirror when you're wearing it, that's vitally important!
I still don't understand why guitar shops don't have full length mirrors for you to 'try on' a prospective guitar.

To add to others thoughts, choosing a lighter string gauge (thinner strings) makes them easier to press down when you start out. Ask your guitar shop for 'nines' (they are known by the gauge of the lightest string which in the case of nines is 0.009 of a something, I forget what), they should be light enough.

I would echo other's wariness of lessons. I learnt the basic chord shapes and one scale off my dad, then got a list of what chords go with each other in each key and went from there. I learnt strumming from the good old Russ Shipton books. The first song I could play AND sing was Rockin All Over The World by Status Quo. It felt ace!

Once you're up and running google for the chords to your favourite songs, don't waste money on songbooks.
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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by Outcognito » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:07 pm

Have a look around the shops and try out a few guitars that you like the look and feel of. Ask to try them with a strap so you can stand and see how comfortable they are and try them sitting down to see if you're happy with the way they fit across your body and the way they look on you. If you've seen someone in a band playing your ideal looking guitar, find out what it is. There are some great "cheap" electrics around - Fender's Squier range are known for being decent, as are the Epiphones, amongst others. Ask if someone could demo the difference in sound between guitars with single coil pick ups and humbuckers. This may not bother you but humbuckers tend to produce a fatter, some might say "more rock" sound than single coils, which tend to sound thinner but more shimmery. Typical guitars to try out are the Fender (Squier) Stratocaster, Telecaster, Mustang, Jaguar and Jazzmaster and the Gibson (Epiphone) 335 and Les Paul.

For the first stages of learning, a friend may be able to show you how to tune the guitar, how to finger the open chords A,D,E.G,C,A minor and E minor and a few strumming patterns, using varying combinations of up and down strokes. The book The Complete Guitar Player by Russ Shipton is pretty good in providing a structured approach to learning to finger and switch between open chords and playing along to songs, if you can stand, for the purposes of practicing, strumming through Mull of Kintyre, some Bob Dylan, Elton John and The Beatles! Once you're up and running with playing and switching fluently between the open chords and a few different strumming patterns, you'll be well set to play lots of songs - indiepop and otherwise - and/or make up your own.

An alternative approach would be to make a list of songs/guitar bits that you'd like to be able to play and find a teacher/friend who will design lessons/show you things with that goal in mind. That, to me, seems the obvious and most motivating way. I'm teaching someone to play bass. She loves Joy Division and she wants to learn to play Peter Hook's bass lines. We've started with Transmission, which is a great song to help with coordination and finger movement using one string and three notes. And right away it's relevant to her. There's no need to go into scales and theory at this stage, or even at all, if the interest isn't there. It is handy to go through a regular finger co-ordination/stretching exercise to help build up strength and precision but keep it short and fun and think of it as training, as opposed to playing the game!
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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by this clump of trees » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:10 pm

dont' rent a guitar! just buy a cheap one for you to teach yourself "crazy train" on. if you decide guitar is not for you, you can always give it away or sell it to somebody.

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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by Wheatabeat » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:44 pm

leon wrote:The first song I could play AND sing was Rockin All Over The World by Status Quo. It felt ace!
You do play that live now, don't you Leon? Surely?
Fuck your tea room.

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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by Colin » Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:42 pm

tompony wrote:
roundbitsofplastic wrote:As for a guitar, I think one of the most important things is the width of the neck, depending on your hand size. Electric guitars are easier to learn on because the strings are, like, I dunno, they just take less effort to make em do what you want. though there's always the option of a nylon strung guitar, I suppose.
This is definitely the key! It will be a lot easier to practice if the guitar is easy to play
I'm realising this after trying to learn on a 12-string.

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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by leon » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:20 am

Wheatabeat wrote:
leon wrote:The first song I could play AND sing was Rockin All Over The World by Status Quo. It felt ace!
You do play that live now, don't you Leon? Surely?
I'm getting a waistcoat and a ponytail soon too.
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Re: learning to play guitar for the first time

Post by heidisuperhero » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:20 pm

i've found a very interesting way of learning guitar.

learn the ukulele. it's a lot simpler and you don't have the frustration associated with fucking up on guitar. then transfer the skills (and callouses) over to the guitar when yr ready.

win.

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Re:F.A.O. alongwaltz

Post by Pog » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:45 pm

Hey alongwaltz - I'm interested to know how the guitar playing is coming along? Your original post was quite some time ago so can you update us on what happened, what guitar you bought etc etc.

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