Hello from another lapsed beginner guitar player. There seem to be a few of us here.
I first learnt on an old classical guitar - open chords and a couple of scales on the first few frets. Over time though the guitar warped like a banana to the point that it was not playable.
I then restarted with an Ayers acoustic steel string guitar. It sounded beautiful but I struggled with the size of the body and hadn’t realised the need to have guitar action setup properly. I was following the Steve Krenz Learn & Master Guitar but hit a wall about a third of the way into the course - I just could not play a barre F chord or play notes higher up the fretboard. Also, I was finding there to be a chasm between playing Yankee Doodle and the type of music that actually appealed. After a quick succession of house moves, the guitar ended up in storage with all my things gathering dust.
After 10+ years my route back into guitar had an unlikely path from watching a surf film called Big vs Small before Christmas. It was such an empowering film about embracing life that I felt compelled to overcome previous false starts at learning guitar.
The big game changer has been borrowing an entry level Ibanez electro-acoustic guitar which has a considerably smaller body than my Ayers guitar. It’s made the experience of playing so much more comfortable that I find myself reaching for it even though the tone doesn’t come close to the Ayers.
Since January I’ve gone back to basics starting from Module 1 and have been finding lots of gaps in my understanding and technique. It’s taken almost 3 months to cover Grade 1 - (re)learning how to play chords but also new things like how to mute strings, use a pick and disciplined strumming with a metronome. I’m on the start of Grade 2 now and feel like I’m fast approaching where my playing had peaked previously but this time round with much better technique.
One of the most surprising things has been trying to play a barre F chord on the borrowed electro-acoustic guitar and finding that it is now absolutely possible. I don’t have fast chord changes with it yet, but do feel confident that will come. So, with a guitar properly set up, I’m finding that I can also start to pick out notes higher up the fret board as the strings are not sitting so far from the fret. I can’t even begin to describe how happy this makes me - it feels like a world of possibility is opening up.
Using an amped guitar has also supported using a looper for the first time. I love (/hate?) that there is nowhere to hide, both when playing and also when listening back to recordings. It’s been a very steep learning curve but has really accelerated my ability to more honestly see how I’m playing and the opportunity to improve. I’ve not yet built up the courage to take part in AVOYP but can vouch for the importance of hearing yourself play.
Most importantly of all, the looper has also given an outlet to have fun and improvise - it allows a freedom outside of the more formal lesson structure. For me this is the real secret sauce that is really getting me motivated, as though my skill is not where I would like it to be I’m having so much fun experimenting. It must be contagious, my partner who used to be in a band when they were younger now wants in too and bought a guitar and also has started playing for the first time in forever.
What’s the dream?
To build a competency for live improvisation and writing music?
Who knows, maybe even to play in public at some point?
But right here, right now - it’s just about getting some joy out of playing guitar today.