Bob's Learning Log

Hi everyone,

I’ve been learning with Justin since mid-July, 2020, like a lot of people, starting up in the midst of the pandemic. I had a Washburn D12-S left-handed, which I bought back around 1999-2000. Took one-on-one lessons with a couple of different local guitarists but it didn’t last and I’ve been mostly idle from then to 2020. In listening to Justin’s advice about it being easier to learn with an electric, because of the string sizes and the smaller neck, I went out and bought a beginner’s Squire Stratocaster and eventually a Boss mini amp. Last year, I picked up a Breedlove, from their Eco Collection, a Discovery S Concert left-handed guitar. It’s a little smaller than the Washburn dreadnought. But I have size 12 strings on it and had 11’s put on the Washburn when I had it set up. Here’s a picture of all three.

After working through Grades 1, 2, the old Grade 3, and parts of Grade 4, I’ve since gone a bit random. I’ve returned to Grade 3 with the newer lessons and am enjoying that. But I’ve also got away from my formal practices (which I had tried to do 3-4 days a week) and have been mostly working on improving songs, with a smattering of exercises thrown in. It’s not ideal, truly, but at least I’m improving.

Some of the things I’ve been working on include barre chords, chord transitions, especially those necessary for some songs, G major scale, finger gym, and occasionally small riffs.

I’ve been shy about sharing video of my playing but I’ve decided there’s no time like the present, so I’ll be uploading my playing/singing I’m a Believer by the Monkees over in the Record Yourself area of the community. Will soon add some others.

That’s about it for now. I want to start interacting more about my own playing with others so that I can improve.



Hey Bob, great stuff, always interesting to hear other peoples stories about their guitar journey. For me the big difference in motivator was learning to play songs all the way through. Once I learned my first (and easy) song all the way through it motivated me like nothing else has. And now, ten years later, it still motivates me like no other.

I remember in my early days each new song, especially when I learned challenge songs, took a long time, I recall a justin lesson for Wonderful Tonight that learned fingerstyle and it took me a whole month. Look forward to hearing more from you.

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Hi Bob just commented on your recording and well done on starting your Learning Log, it’s a good way to keep track on your progress :slight_smile:

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Thanks @tony ! Yeah, I’ve been trying to play all the way through a song when I can. Good to know that that worked for you. I remember the feeling of finishing a song, kind of a little internal nudge that I completed it.

Funny you mentioned Wonderful Tonight. I love that song and learned the fingering of it fairly well sometime last year. But I couldn’t sing it while fingering all of the notes. I’ve been meaning to get back to it, to see if I can do any better on it.

Thanks again!

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Enjoyed the first post in your log, Bob, including a fine set of instruments.

People often report losing their way a little post the first few grades. My 2cs is that it helps to have some sense of direction in the musician you are wanting to become. That can help give focus to which programmes you follow, and the short to medium term goals you set.

Justin advised me once to set focus in timeboxes of say 3 months. Long enough to make progress, not long enough to feel like you’re in a rut. And after each timebox, step back reflect, and then set focus for the next.

You did great on the recording, I’d encourage doing more of that. The playing of songs really brings it all together.

Nothing wrong with going back to Grade 1 and 2 to pick songs that use what you had learned at that time, while continuing your study and practice in Grade 3.

Keep on keeping on, ever onward.


I love the idea of setting a 3-month goal. Thanks so much for that! I was just telling my wife how much the feedback on my first shared recording has motivated me! Geez, why didn’t I do this sooner?! Well, I’m not looking back, going to keep on recording and practicing.

It’s really nice that you can go back and watch older lessons. I still love doing songs from grades 1 and 2. Thanks for your encouragement, @DavidP, it means a lot.

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Hi Bob, great story thanks for sharing. I also saw your video and enjoyed watching you enjoying it :smiley:

I am curious if you found the electric guitar helped speed up the learning process or helped in any way. Do you think the purchase was worth it? I am in the same boat wondering if a electric will help me learn certain things, like barre chords and power chords, faster. But not sure if I am using it as an excuse to buy another toy :slight_smile:


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Hi Mangesh,

Yes, the electric definitely helped me. I started Justin’s lessons using the electric and didn’t switch to using both until probably six months or even more later. It also took me a long time to get barre chords to be clean, with all of the notes sounding good, on the acoustic guitars. What ultimately worked was to switch back from acoustic to electric, really work hard on getting all of the notes to ring clear, but also to go slower getting my hand and arm positions in the right place. Then I went back to the acoustic and I started to see a lot of improvement. I practice mostly with the acoustic these days. My fretting hand gets more of a workout but I like the acoustic sound so much!

So I would recommend getting an electric because of the ease of making barre chords. It’s also easier in general to play, which probably makes getting through the lessons more fun. I’m also a big classic rock fan, so having the electric to crank out tunes like Wild Thing is just pure joy. Someday, I’d like to get a nicer guitar but for learning the basic Squire Strat is fine.

Thanks for reading my learning log!

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After a few months of not playing because of a painful tennis elbow (caused by adrenaline-driven lopping of blackberry bushes and yanking of unwanted ivy), I think I can finally return to playing guitar! It was my right elbow, and being a lefty, that meant pain when I tried to formed chords and play. I got a cortisone/steroid shot in the elbow yesterday and it is already feeling much much better! I’ll be taking it easy for the first week or two, don’t want to overdo it. But, yeah, it feels good to be back.


Hi Bob,
That is not playing guitar for a long time :scream:,…very annoying,…I also hope that things will only get better for you from now on,…good luck,

Hi Bob,
I’m very sympathetic to what you are experiencing. I am working through a similar issue caused by similar activities, controlling invasive ivy and multiflora rose. My case isn’t bad enough to cause me to stop playing. I’m a righty and it’s in my right elbow so it’s not as limiting. I need to stop and stretch out that arm after strumming a bit or after holding it in one position while picking. I stop when it gets stiff and switch to music theory, the ‘rut buster’ series, and working on slurs/hammer-ons/flick-offs (minus the picking).
Initially, you could prioritize strum patterns and picking oriented activities using an open tuning to make it more interesting.
I wish you a speedy recovery!

Thanks Roger!

Thanks Dave! Kudos to you for sticking with it and finding a way. I’m hoping to make good progress getting back to where I was.

I hope that Cortizone shot works. I’ve only heard good things about that shot. As for not playing I know how you feel I hurt my wrist in July and had to Stop playing for like 5 weeks. It sucked. But I did get the Ear Trainer app which is a lot of fun and beneficial. I definitely learned a lot from it.

Welcome back. happy playing

Hi Bob, hope you are back in track soon.

Thanks Andrés.

Thanks Jason! Hoping for full recovery. We’ll see.

Good luck with tennis elbow recovery. My wife had that for a while and recovery took a LONG time. In the end pain can be separate from injury, the injury healed and the pain stayed so she did some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) using an app called curable that helped. Would you believe.

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