Firas' Guitar Journal

My AVOYPs

2023-07-15 - Three Little Birds (Don’t Worry) by Bob Marley

2023-07-21 - Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix

2023-07-21 - Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

2023-08-11 - Squier After Upgrades - Riffs, Ain’t No Sunshine, Hey Joe

2023-08-26 - How to Save a Life by The Fray

2023-09-01 - Old Time Rock n Roll by Bob Seger

2023-10-06 - Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix

2023-10-28 - Black by Pearl Jam

2023-10-29 - Pearl Jam - Last Kiss

2023-11-04 - Oasis - Wonderwall

2023-11-11 - B.B. King - The Thrill is Gone - Intro Solo

2024-02-09 - Firas - Blues Riffs & Licks

2024-04-09 - BBKing - The Thrill is Gone - Solo 1

2024-04-14-BBKing-Thrill-Rhythm

2024-04-14-BBKing-Thrill-Improv

2024-05-06-BBKing-Thrill-Solo1

2024-05-06-BBKing-Thrill-Solo2



My Gear

Guitars:
PRS SE Paul’s Guitar (Black Gold Burst) “Dune”
Fender American Professional II Stratocaster HSS (Dark Night) “Blueberry”
Epiphone Les Paul Modern (Graphite Black) “Luna”
Harley Benton HB-35Plus VS (Vintage Burst) “Ember”
Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS (Brown Sunburst) “Aurora”
Yamaha APX600 in Oriental Blue Burst “Obi-Wan”

Amps:
Fender Mustang GTX100
Fender Mustang Micro
Marshall Code 25
Fender 15G Frontman

Other gear, tools/accessories:

Universal Audio Volt 2 audio interface
PreSonus Eris E5 2-Way Active Studio Monitors
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Monitor Headphones
Zoom G1X Four Guitar Multi-effects Processor with Expression Pedal
Shure SM57 Instrument Microphone
MusicNomad GRIP ONE (string Winder & cutter), Cleaning Kit, Cradle Cube, 26 PC. Guitar Tech Screwdriver & Wrench Set, Precision 6 pc. Guitar Setup Gauge Tool Set
Hercules Multi-Guitar Rack GS525B

Guitar Projects:

Project Supercharge Sunburst Squier



Courses/modules completed:

  • Beginner Course - Grade 1 (June 30, 2023)
  • Practical Music Theory - Grade 1 (July 15, 2023)
  • Practical Music Theory - Grade 2 (August 9, 2023)
  • Strumming SOS - Strumming Foundations - Grade 1 (July 21, 2023)


My Back Story

Hi folks! Firas here from Kuwait. I’ll start out with a more detailed version of my intro post on how I ended up here as part of the Justin Guitar community:

As I approached the infamous midlife crisis phase of life several years ago, I decided to revisit a lot of the hobbies, passions or dreams I gave up on as a younger fellow and have redubbed it my midlife exploration. In quick summary it went like this:

At 38 years old, I suffered from severe crippling back pain, so I worked on my physical rehabilition with a physical therapist as well as learning yoga, swimming and eventually weight lifting. This was a crucial transformation in my life, as I hadn’t realized how living with that pain for over 14 years had deprived me and my family of experiencing so much of life. Overcoming that challenge opened up a world of possibilities for me.

At 40 years old, I went back to Scuba Diving which I had only done briefly in my high school years, and spent two years taking various courses and diving both locally and abroad which rekindled my love for the ocean and photography. I reached the PADI Instructor level but decided that teaching wasn’t for me. I did however introduce my 3 daughters to swimming, snorkeling and even scuba diving (my 2 eldest) which were all new experiences for them.

At 43 years old, I started learning Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I had always loved martial arts as a kid, and practiced some Karate and the Chinese art of Xing Yi Quan in college, but stopped there. Two years later, I’m now a blue belt, and competed last year in my first international competition (AJP Tour - World Masters). Two of my daughters have been training with me for over a year, and it’s become a family activity (3 days a week for them, 4 days a week for me).

For my 45th birthday earlier in June this year, I bought myself a Squier Affinity Stratocaster (HSS) electric guitar starter pack (beautiful Brown Sunburst finish). I only briefly played a little during my high school years but didn’t really get far with it (just taught myself a few riffs & song intros, I couldn’t keep a rhythm going or learn any chords as memorization was never my thing). To my frustration, the free 3 month Fender Play trial card that came with my guitar starter kit didn’t work here in Kuwait but the silver lining of that was that it led me to search for other online learning courses and several sites highly recommended Justin Guitar, which was how I ended up joining this amazing community.

Honestly, I didn’t expect to get very far or make much progress as it was extremely frustrating when I was younger and I thought it would only be that much harder now. To my surprise, the web site course is the most professional and intuitive online learning program I’ve ever come across (love the practice assistant and the songbook collection). I could never memorize things easily, but having completed all the modules in Grade 1, I’ve memorized all 8 chords so far just by following along with the lessons and practicing every day between 1-2 hours. I’m also playing the 3 awesome riffs comfortably, playing along comfortably with 8 songs, and most of my chord changes are over 60 times/min. (more difficult ones towards the end with G & C around 40 - 50). It’s amazing how much practical music skills are introduced in the first few modules in such an easy and digestable way and more importantly I’m playing actual songs!

I thought I’d be embarrassed to show anyone my mediocre guitar skills, but I’m so happy with my progress, I played 2 Bob Marley songs for my teenage daughters! To my surprise, they didn’t run out of the room screaming with their hands over their ears and they started to ask me all about guitar playing.

So all in all, it’s been an unbelievable experience so far, and I hope to keep playing for months and years ahead. I’d love to be able to play some rock and blues and seeing that they’re being introduced in the upcoming modules/grades has me excited to learn them!

Looking forward to continue learning and growing my guitar playing skills alongside you all!

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30th June, 2023 Update

Having completed Grade 1 in just under 3 weeks. Here are my learning goals for the upcoming month of consolidation practice:

Learn/memorize the following 5 songs and post a video of me playing one of them here on the JG community forums:

  • 3 Little Birds (Don’t Worry) - Bob Marley
  • Ain’t No Sunshine - Bill Withers
  • Hey Joe - Jimmy Hendrix
  • How to Save a Life - The Fray
  • Old Time Rock & Roll - Bob Seger

Complete the following courses (at least Grade 1):

  • Strumming SOS
  • Practical Music Theory
  • Ear Training

Continue practicing daily (at least 5 times each week) for an hour or more.

Learn to change strings and setup my own guitars (will be delving into that later tonight).

I think that should keep me quite busy for the coming month :smiley:

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Gear photos:

Epiphone Les Paul Modern (Graphite Black)



Squier Affinity Stratocaster (HSS - Brown Sunburst)

Fender Frontman 15G Amplifier

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Very cool story Firas! I find that Justin’s learning program is the best for me to make progress after years of attempting to become a guitar player… Love your gear & hope you advance well with it!

Tod

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That’s awesome!

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Hi Firas,

that’s an interesting intro for you learning log and was an entertaining read. Thanks for sharing a part of your journey with us. :slight_smile:

You sound like you definitely want to go somewhere with your playing and put a lot of dedication in it, this is awesome. :smiley: Take your time with consolidation, it’s the solid ground you’ll build on all the skills of future lessons. Good luck and lots of joy on your way! :slight_smile:

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@CATMAN62 thanks Tod. With Justin’s amazing courses I’m sure I’ll put my gear to good use :blush:

@tony Definitely a good sign! They even didn’t me playing more songs to them every once in a while :grin:

@Lisa_S Thank you for the reminder Lisa :pray:t4: That’s great advice as I have the tendency to get ahead of myself with such things. I’ll take my time in the coming month to solidify all that I’ve learned so I can build on it in the later stages.

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Hi Firas,

I loved your story and how you overcame the odds against you and injury to land here. For fender play you didn’t miss anything. Justin s course is much better. We’re all here to offer support as you Groton skills. Looking forward to hearing you play when you’re ready to share.

All the best of luck

Jeff

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@SDKissFan Thanks Jeff. Yeah no regrets here for missing out on Fender Play as I ended up here instead and spared myself a lot of frustration :smiley: Thank for your kind words and support. I look forward to sharing my journey and my developing skills with the community here.

Fires, nice looking guitars. You have the gear to play many styles of rock/blues.

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Thanks Steve. Now the fun part will be learning to play them :grin:

15th July, 2023 Update

I managed to perform some minor setup of my Squier Affinity Strat which I’m really happy about. Lowered the action, swapped out some new strings, filed down the sharp sprouting frets, smoothed the sides and back of the neck, and conditioned the fret board. The results are spectacular! It’s much smoother to play now without cutting up my left hand and the fret board looks rich and dark colored (unlike the dried up husk it was before). Overall, a successful first attempt at enhancing my Squier. I’m loving playing it so much now, that I’ve decided to go all out and upgrade all the mods on it. Since, they don’t sell anything other than starter Squier Strats here in Kuwait (no Fenders or even higher model Squiers sadly), I decided to mod my Squier with higher quality electronics, pickups, locking tuners, nut, bridge and saddles. I’ll update this Journal once everything arrives and I’ve had a chance to tinker with it.

As for my practice, I’ve been consistently practicing Grade 1 every day (chord changes, riffs, strumming, songs, ear & singing training), and slowly getting better at chord changes while strumming and keeping rhythm going.

I’ve completed the following modules of the courses I’ve started:

  • Practical Music Theory - Grade 1
  • 70% of Strumming SOS
  • The intro of Ear Training (I’ve included the beginning exercises of it into my daily training).

I decided to start with an easier song to memorize, Bob Marley’s - Three Little Birds (Don’t Worry) and I’ve been making good progress with it, good enough to record it:

2023-07-15 - Bob Marley - Three Little Birds

I’ve also been experimenting with my Zoom G1X Four Multi-FX Processor (used the Ska drum beat in the above video). It’s made practicing my strumming so much more fun and playing with different FX while practicing my riffs and songs has devoured many hours in the evening :smiley: I’m so happy I got this as it’s a great intro to guitar FX.

All in all, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made in the past couple of weeks since completing Grade 1 of the Beginner Course. I’m really enjoying tinkering with and improving my Squier, loving my song practice (some days I’ll focus on one, other days I’ll practice a few to keep things fresh), and slowly improving my strumming.

I’m looking forward to memorizing my second song next (Ain’t No Sunshine), continuing my Grade 1 consolidation practice, learning more about music theory and improving my strumming.

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21st July, 2023 Update

I set up my Epiphone Les Paul: polished the fretboard, changed the strings, adjusted the truss rod, lowered the string action, and raised the pickup heights (intonation was pretty good, so left it as is).

Finished the following course modules:

  • Strumming SOS Grade 1

Progressing through Practical Music Theory Grade 2 as I continue to consolidate the Beginner Course Grade 1 skills.

Bought some new gear:

Universal Audio Volt 2 audio interface
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Monitor Headphones
Shure SM57 Instrument Microphone

Posted my 2nd AVoYP: Jimi Hendrix’ - Hey Joe

Setup my new Volt 2 audio interface and Ableton Live 11 Lite DAW and recorded myself playing this song using the audio interface this time instead of an external mic. Did some quick video & audio syncing to make my latest AVoYP, which I’m really happy with :smiley:

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Record and posted my 3rd AVoYP: Bill Withers Ain’t No Sunshine

Getting into a rhythm with playing and recording my practice songs for Grade 1 consolidation and decided to do my 3rd one as well today:

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I bought a new amp a few days ago which I’m loving (Marshall Code 25). The preset customization options through the mobile app, community downloadable presets, and the ability to stream audio from my phone to the amp over Bluetooth are amazing features!

So to christen the new amp, I thought I should re-record some of my Grade 1 songs that I’ve been practicing and improving on:

https://community.justinguitar.com/t/2023-07-21-bill-withers-aint-no-sunshine/230609/28?u=firasr

https://community.justinguitar.com/t/2023-07-21-jimi-hendrix-hey-joe/230413/19?u=firasr

I wasn’t too happy with my earlier attempts at recording through an external mic with my old amp, but I’m really happy with the new setup. Both the new amp (Marshall Code 25) and microphone (Shure SM57) seem to have made a dramatic improvement in the recorded sound.

I’m glad that I took the time to continue practicing these songs and adding to them as my skills improve, as they sound so much better now and I just love listening to them and playing them over and over :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Feeling an inevitable rut coming on, I watched Justin’s video on rutbusters, which gave me a good reflection on some things I’ve already been doing and new ideas to try to keep my guitar learning and practice motivation going:

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Recorded and posted my 4th Grade 1 consolidation song: How to Save a Life by The Fray

On a side note, I switched to using Presonus Studio One from Ableton Live Light as my preferred DAW for editing my recordings. The only reason is that it has an easier UI which I prefer and it seems a lot more beginner-friendly tutorials from both Presonus themselves as well as others which are easier to follow.

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Recorded and posted my 5th Grade 1 consolidation song: Old Time Rock n Roll by Bob Seger

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Sept. 11, 2023:

Purchased my dream guitar Fender American Professional II Strat HSS in the Dark Night finish and a Fender Mustang Micro Headphone Amp:

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