Hello from "Kraz" in SoCal

My calluses are starting to come in, so that demonstrates enough persistence to go ahead and introduce myself after lurking for a couple weeks.

In my early 20’s I worked at a camp where I learned a few chords to strum along to very simple camp songs, but I didn’t stick with it or try to learn much beyond those few songs. For my 53rd birthday a couple weeks ago, I decided to treat myself to an electric guitar and give playing another try. I’m now the proud owner of a Fender Player Plus Stratocaster (in “aged candy apple red”) that I found on sale, and I’m on the cusp of Module 6 of Grade 1 in Justin’s lessons.

It has been very encouraging to discover these forums and find that there are plenty of other “old dogs” learning to play. The ship bound for rock stardom has already sailed for me, but I’m content to swim in anonymous waters and just have some fun.

I started out at the earliest modules as though it was my first time picking up a guitar, and I’m glad I did, but some of the early chords came back faster than expected (aside from finger pain). I wasn’t getting everything to ring out right away, but muscle memory is still there for at least a few of the chords.

Two of my most challenging chords early on have been A and Dm. A-chord isn’t hard per se, but I learned it with a different fingering (the way Justin says he learned it) and in this case, the old muscle memory competes with the “right” way. I know either way works, but I see the value in how anchor fingers make D-A-E changes easier with his suggested fingering, so I’m determined to learn it. Dm is only hard because it’s not one of the old ones I knew so I don’t have any automatic reflexes kicking in for it. My slowest chord changes are still between Dm and anything else.

I recently finished the lesson that teaches the G chord and I feel almost duped by whoever I learned it from. I learned it the “hard” way, and in fact, had no problem remembering or getting that fingering right even before Justin got to it, but his “hacked” way makes a lot of sense and he makes a good case for doing it that way even though I can do it the other way. It’ll be another bit of muscle memory for me to unlearn.

One of the revelations for me as I work my way through these lessons is how often it’s not only acceptable but preferred to mute strings. Since I was used to trying my best to not mute strings as I played chords, it wasn’t obvious to me that sometimes muting is what you want to do, as in muting the fifth string in the “hacked” G. It also made more sense of the finger stretching exercises once I realized I wasn’t supposed to contort my hand to make sure I never touched other strings as I went. If you don’t want to play it, it doesn’t matter if you mute it, and it might even help. Obvious, sure, but somehow I never picked up on that in my first go-round.

I’m a ways off from being able to sing and play at the same time, and I practice off to myself (with headphones) where no one else has to put up with it, but I’m enjoying it and feeling like I’m making progress.


Hey that’s awesome, welcome to the community. I lived in Pasadena for about 5 years in the late 70s, many happy memories from my time there. I started playing guitar at the age of 53 some 10 years ago and it’s been the best thing. Such fun and enjoyment amongst the challenges of getting my fingers to do what they don’t want to. Keep at it and keep having fun.


Hello Kraz, and welcome to the community. It’s very nice to have you here :slight_smile: .

Thanks for your wonderful introduction. I’m also one of the older ones, who know, it’s never too late to learn something new :smiley: .

Yes, that’s the same for me. I want to have some fun, make some nice music, and enrich some campfire night with my guitar and - the biggest challenge - my voice :wink: .

Still having some chords in your muscle memory is a great help. I’ve never played guitar before, but my sister did, when she was a teen. And from only watching her practicing, I still could remember the A grip (standard version).

Dm is kind of a challenge, yes. But I really like its sound, and therefore I love playing it. And while playing it, it automatically gets better :grinning: .

The muting thing was also something new to me. Unfortunately, due to my small hands, I really struggle with that a lot. G chord, of course, is no problem, but C chord (muting the 6th string) definitely is. Altough, I would really love to be able to do it, as I quite often hit the E string accidentally,…

I wish you lots of fun along your guitar journey. (I’m sure you will with that beautiful aged candy apple red instrument :smiley: .)

1 Like

Welcome Mark,

And you are definitely young enough to let people with healthy jealousy listen to you. :wink: :grin:…so I wish you a lot of fame in a somewhat more modest circle, but above all a lot of fun playing the guitar :sunglasses:

1 Like

Hi Mark! I hope you enjoy your time here and your learning progresses to where you want to go. :smiley:

1 Like

Hey Kraz, new here too. Excited to grow as a better guitar player and singer.

1 Like

Welcome Mark

Join the club, just enjoying the journey :slightly_smiling_face:

Dm was a struggle for me, just seemed an odd shape to get my fingers into. All good now thankfully.

1 Like

Thank you to everyone for your words of support and encouragement. @NicoleKKB mentioned a few things I want to reply to specifically.

…and enrich some campfire night with my guitar and - the biggest challenge - my voice

Much respect. I’m super self-conscious about my singing voice. I usually avoid singing around others unless so many people are singing that I don’t worry about being heard much. I’m not too shy to sing to myself, but in these early stages combining singing with playing is out of reach.

And while playing it, it automatically gets better

The first time I learned any chords, this was hard to believe because some chords seemed so hard, but one advantage of this being my second go-round is that I know it to be true, so I’m not as discouraged. A new (to me) chord like Em is such an easy shape the only hard part is not putting my fingers down for E major instead. Dm is more stretchy and remember-y, so it’ll take more practice. I remember the shape of C just fine, but it’s so stretchy it’s currently my hardest chord of ones I already knew. (Hey, I know 8 chords now–that might be my personal record!)

Honestly, the memory involved in learning to play is one of my weaknesses insecurities challenges. My memory isn’t critically bad, but I definitely notice a diminished short-term memory compared to a decade or two ago. I don’t expect learning guitar to reverse the aging process, but conventional wisdom says keeping the brain active is good for it, so this feels like a fun way to do that.

Speaking of not being able to combine singing and playing…for now that’s mostly because the playing isn’t automatic enough, but I know that will come if I keep practicing. After that point, though, it’s also a memory thing. I used to have a good memory, but never for lyrics, so when it comes to singing, that might be as hard as learning the chords and rhythm of a song. We’ll see.

…due to my small hands

I’ve seen “small hands” come up a lot in the context of learning guitar and it makes me wonder where the cut-off is. I know (or think) there’s no official measurement or anything, but in some cases I think the definition is “I tried to play guitar”. I definitely feel like I have small hands when I play, but I don’t go through my days thinking my hands are “small”. I’m only 5’7" and never felt like my hands are disproportionately large for my frame, so if “average male hand” is the reference point for guitar playing, I probably do have “small” hands. Whatever the “official” standard may be, I think I suffer from guitar-induced small hands.

Thanks again for the warm welcome. Discovering the community here is an unexpected bonus to just finding the lessons. Thanks, Justin. I know you read every post.

1 Like

Hello and welcome aboard Mark. :slight_smile:

Nice looking guitar.

The old way of playing your G chord may come in useful down the line, so don’t be in a rush to brush it aside for now.

Hello Kraz and welcome to the community.
Old dogs, new dogs, everyone is on some sort of learning path here.
Your introduction tells us you’re on the right path.
Unlearning previously ingrained chord fingerings is a peculiar experience for sure. Kudos for pushing on and being determined to make them. See if this helps for D minor (or similar exercises for other awkward chords).

I love this. Self deprecation and wit. And a grounded approach. :slight_smile:

Hi, Richard!

Thanks for that thread suggestion for help on Dm. I haven’t read through all of it yet, but I already saw some good tips. Yesterday I got to the lesson about “Fast Perfect Changes”, so those might help, too.

I think my big challenge with Dm is less about dexterity and more about imprinting the muscle memory for it. (Also deciding between 123 or 124 fingering.) Unlike the other chords in the Basic 8, I either didn’t learn this chord in my first go-round 30 years ago, or the muscle memory for it disappeared without a trace.

Strangely enough, my other hardest chord isn’t a usual suspect like C or G, but is the humble A chord. Here, my problem is training new muscle memory over old. Going slow, no problem, but when I try to change chords at speed, my brain says new fingering and my fingers say old fingering, and they fight for dominance while an imaginary third hand gives the finger to keeping time.

I can tell I’m outgrowing the introduction thread and but would like to continue sharing my journey in a learning log. Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone, and hope to see you in the new thread.

1 Like

I’ll contribute one more intro-type detail before I switch to a “learning log” thread, which is the etymology of “Kraz”. (I often wonder the meaning of people’s chosen nicknames.)

I’ve had lots of online nicknames over the years, but in recent years one of my favorites is “Krazmalaxx”, which understandably people tend to abbreviate as “Kraz”.

I’m a huge fan of a live comedy show called the Improvised Shakespeare Company. “Krazmalaxx” was the name of an outrageous character in one of those shows. He was an absurd, almost alien creature whose most memorable quirk was that he ate through his butt. It was hilarious if you were there.

I chose the name on a whim when I had to register a new name somewhere (Twitch) and it became my go-to handle for the last few years when I have to pick a username people will see. Sometimes, I just use the “Kraz” part as a prefix, as I have here.