Beginner's safe space

Thanks toby… yes i had a look at that video after i’d done the recording…lol


Thank you so much for this! Exactly the feedback I was hoping for since I don’t have a teacher sitting with me. Going to take several weeks on working on these suggestions. I only wish I’d found this thread sooner!


As has been said, 14 weeks, fantastic for such a short time. Is this maybe the second or third time you have attempted learning guitar ?

I am perhaps a bit of a perfectionist myself, took 14 months to get to thinking about going to module 12. The F took some time, as did C before that.
So very impressed this is after 3 1/2months. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Congratulations on your first AVOYP posting Meghann. Three and a half months in and that is some pretty sweet playing. Nice fingerpicking and steady strumming. Impressive stuff.

Just one word of advice, when you are changing to your barre chords get into the habit of landing that index/barre finger first. I started learning it by placing fingers 3 and 4 down first and then found out that it should be the index finger first, so had to start all over again. It is done this way because when you are going to hit the strings with your strum again you will be hitting the string first that you index finger lands on and therefore that will be the first note to ring out. As you get in to that habit as well, you see that your change can actually be faster than when you do it by landing fingers 3 and 4 first.


I have struggled with my acoustic for as long as I’ve had it and thought that was just the way it was until I took it to a music shop and they did a pro tune. Basically, lowered the action and set it up with new strings and when I picked it up it was a WOW moment. Couldn’t believe the difference, it’s just so much easier to play​:flushed::+1:


Wrapping up Grade 1 with song practice has been tough. I did well with chord perfect and 1 minute changes, but I really struggle with hitting my chords correctly while trying to keep rhythm. This is my best take so far, but I still feel it is a bit sloppy. Based solely on Nitsuj Module 7 - Practice 10, I believe I’ve passed Grade 1. I’m very open to any critique or advice for improving even it means more practice before moving on to grade 2.

The first part of this clip is just me strumming through the first several bars, followed by me playing along with a backing tracking.

Last Kiss by Pearl Jam — Grade 1 Consolidation


@Hobart re: Last Kiss
Congratulations on your grade 1 progress and kudos for posting up a video.
Your left hand is doing a whole heap of good work there. Mostly, the chord changes are clean and fingers are landing on the new chord as a unit, together, without too much noticeable lag between them.
I would advise looking at your own overall posture, the way you hold the guitar and the effect it is having on your right arm and hand for strumming. This is where I see issues in terms of smoothness, tension and a need to address technical issues to help you improve.
Take a look.

You wear a strap - that’s great! So many people do not wear a strap when seated. It is a perfectly good choice. The strap is also taut enough to be supportive of the guitar rather then just a floppy piece of loose fabric serving no purpose.
Now, take advantage of the strap and shift, considerably, the position of the guitar. You have it pushed so far to your right and so far behind you that it is causing your right shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist and hand to do all sorts of contortions to be in the right place for strumming. It looks tense, it probably causes tension on your muscles and sinews unnecessarily and must be making it feel uncomfortable to swing freely to strum. It is also forcing you to rotate your torso clockwise a little. Your pick is striking the strings almost over the neck. You should be strumming the strings over or between the pickups. You need to be able to pull your strumming back even further when you develop and move on to a technique of palm muting when your right hand needs to be over the bridge.
THe position you adopt does have some seeming advantages - the neck is raised at an angle and your head is able to face your fretting hand and keep an eye on your chord changes very easily. But, look at the photo again. What if you needed to focus your attention on your right hand and wanted to look at it and see what it was doing? Let’s say in terms of ensuring you were striking 6 strings on a G chord and only 4 on a D chord. You would need to twist your neck and rotate your head and be looking behind you. Not comfortable and not good posture wise.
The solution … bring the guitar around from behind you and settle it much more in front of your body. You can tighten the strap up a tiny bit more to raise its height if you wish. And ensure the angle of the neck is still upwards, not horizontal. This will allow your torso to straighten out, your left shoulder to ease forward to a natural position, your forearm and wrist to be working in the same plane as they swing in their strumming arc and everything to feel smooth and easy.

One more critique I hope is encouraging and good feedback. You are using old faithful - D D U U D.
Noticeably, you are pausing in your rhythm and your arm and hand stop swinging. You need to have your Downs and Ups moving in constant motion with no pauses or stopping. If you watch yourself with a keen eye in the opening bars, you should see and hear this - especially when changing from one chord to the next. That is where your hand clearly loses its momentum and hovers in anticipation of the next strum rather than keeping itself in a free flowing arc.
Think what old faithful represents in terms of counting and direction:

Strumming all eighths:

Strumming old faithful:

For old faithful, your arm is moving in eighths and you strike the strings five out of eight movements. In the diagram below, your arm needs to keep the same arc of movement, the same swinging pattern for all whether you are striking or missing the strings. Each Down and Up is the same. The yellow arrows require you to have the same motion but miss the strings.

I hope that helps.

Cheers :smiley:

| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide, Approved Teacher & Moderator



Howard, I’d say by all means continue with Grade 2. And as you do so, I suggest you continue to make time to play songs that make use of all you’ve learned in grade 1, to continue to embed and improve.

I thought your chrod fretting and changes looked good. Where I think you need to focus as you continue is on the strumming, specifically to develop a smooth, continuous down and up motion. I noticed brief pauses at various points, similarly with the foot tapping, which was more or less prevalent at different moments in the song.

It will be worthwhile to spend time working on that with a metronome, working to keep the foot tapping on the beat and the hand moving down and up continuously, playing the pattern you are using in the song.

May also help to clean up the guitar tone a little bit when practicing and playing along to hear your playing more clearly.

You have made excellent progress and are well on track, keep up the learning, practice, and song-playing.


Thumbs up for sharing Howard! Some great tips already from Richard and David. Ready to move on to grade 2 IMHO, while working on all those tips.


Thanks so much for such an in-depth critique! I actually wear the strap specifically to help fight my slouching. I still slouch, but slack in the strap alerts me to straighten up a bit.

I had no idea I was holding the guitar too far back, but I believe it is because I’m so focused on hitting my chords. I’m also very aware of the pauses in my strumming. I practice old faithful with a metronome and focus on my strumming hand, but I lose that focus when I try to play a song — again because I’m so focused on my chord changes.

Hearing all this really helps me understand what I need to work on rather than letting myself get frustrated. I appreciate it!


As I was recording this, I was thinking, “someone is going to point out my inconsistent foot tapping.” :upside_down_face:

Thank you. As I replied to Richard, I’m aware of my rhythm problems, but hearing it from you guys really puts it into perspective. My strumming is a little better when I’m ONLY working on strumming. I need to work on consolidating fretting/strumming, which is where more song practice comes in.


Hi Howard,
Oooo, what super extensive advice and tips :sweat_smile:,…and nice to read how you pick it up,…I can only confirm that with good vibes,…great job, keep playing and asking questions :sunglasses: :clap:


I thought that was pretty good, chord changes clean. As has been said the strumming needs a bit of work, there is a slight pause sometimes when you change chords. Someone pointed out to me that I had this issue and its a pig to sort out if you have been doing it for a while.

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@hobart You have mail.

Close to the end of grade 1 there’s 2 modules with songs from the older version of the App which im trying here. I understand now why people are super critical about themselves when posting lol. I can honestly say, I don’t like what I hear. More work needed for these 2. 1 slow and another quite a bit faster.

I had an L.E.D lamp on but I think next time I’ll more than 30% illumination, sorry about how dark they are, lots of new things happening for this. :thinking:
Anyway I’m sure you all seen first vids before, do what you do.



Hi Rachel,…
This is a big step, :sunglasses: :clap:…this is the way to grow faster,…Your video is many times better than my first video (hidden far away in my LL)…so applause for what you have done, good that you are critical because that is an important part of the learning process,…but stay positive and see the good :sunglasses: :partying_face:


Bravo, Rachel, a big step to record and share but a good one that will serve you well as you continue on and into Grade 2.

You are doing well, making good progress. I noticed quite a difference in the strumming between the two. You did well in Sing, keeping the hand moving and foot-talling on the beat. More little pauses in Get Lucky. I’d suggest you keep building on the steady motion in Sing, perhaps adding some additional down strums and up strums, but keeping that key idea of the continuous motion, no pauses.

Well done, keep at it.


Congrats @Libitina for posting the videos of yourself playing online. Always a big first step. You’ve discovered that lighting is super important for videos :grinning:.

Your chord changes look quite good. You’re doing lots of changes without looking, and mostly getting them right straight away. So that’s pretty good.

You said you don’t like what you hear. I think there are two areas that will make a big difference.

The first, like @DavidP mentioned, is strumming. Getting your strumming fluid and even just applying “old faithful” as a default to those songs will make a big difference. Sing, in particular though, has a quite quick 16th note strumming pattern, and it’s a rhythm-based song, so it’s hard to make it sound just like the original without getting really good at strumming and rhythm. Having said that though - I’d double down on going for the old faithful strumming pattern for now.

Another thing to consider is your guitar tone, You’re playing an electric unamped (a 339 from the looks of it?), even if a hollowbody that’s never going to sound great. Plug it into an amp or an amp sim, add some reverb, and it will instantly sound 10x better.


Great step to post videos of yourself, well done for that. Chords sounded clean but there seemed to be slight pauses in the strumming when you change chords, keep your strumming hand moving to the beat and the fretting hand will eventually catch up.

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@roger_holland Thank you , I will stay positive , now over the hurdle of the first video lol, it can only go downhill from there lol, well, I hope not anyway. te he he.


Agreed, I think I’ll stay in grade 1 for now until grade1 is a little more up to par. I can’t remember the chords just yet but some of the songs just loop the chords, so not so hard. I’m working on the strumming I’ve just purchased and eventually I will try as you suggest and add that to the songs.
Another few weeks and revisit I feel.

@jkahn Lights, camera, action, excepts the lights were a little dim lol… Spot on with the ES 339, and unamped. I live in a flat with people Left,Right and Down but I’ll figure how to get around that :slight_smile: and try the reverb as you suggest. More to follow soon.


Will do, and thank you.