Hello from Zack - 28 yo, 4+ years playing from absolute beginner using JustinGuitar

Hi All,

I recently shared my original music on the AVOYP section (25 original songs; Really proud of them! Started playing in 2019 using JustinGuitar) and some kind members suggested I introduce myself. Here goes.

I am a 28 year old male living outside of DC in Maryland. I grew up and spent 21 years in Pittsburgh. I am an accountant by day. Following passing the CPA exams in the winter of 2018, I got a lot of time back; I figured there was no better time to begin learning guitar. I was drawn to music by Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, and pretty much all 90s pop rock. I loved the sound of the acoustic guitar and the infinite, cool sounds it could make. Often, my favorite version of a song is the one with only the artist and an acoustic guitar. On YouTube, I find myself searching “[music artist] live acoustic.”

I’m not exactly sure how I discovered JustinGuitar, but I think it was a simple Internet search. From his first video, he came across like an old friend wanting to lend a hand, expecting nothing in return. His message that guitar will be at times difficult and frustrating, but overcoming those moments is where real growth and achievement are resonated with me on a foundational level. It’s analogous to most things in life, be it fitness, relationships, or hobbies/skills.

Beginning in January 2019, I paced myself through the beginner’s course, ensuring I had properly practiced and felt comfortable with the previous stage’s material before moving on, as Justin advised. I also downloaded the Justin Guitar Musopia app to play along with songs I liked; I think that was crucial for sticking with it. It was so good for practice and to force myself to get uncomfortable by keeping with the rhythm, a cornerstone of Justin’s teaching. I think I was able to type in my one-minute changes “scores” in the app. That was massively helpful. It was so rewarding that my fingers were making those sounds, even if it was just going from one chord to another. It still astonishes me. The app also introduced me to so much great music; I’ve found so many great artists and songs since learning guitar, thanks in large part to Justin’s song lessons and many YouTubers (Six String Fingerpicking, Goliath Guitar Tutorials, Tim, Marty Music, Guitar Zero2Hero, Bantham Legend, to name a few). I left this comment on the Justin Guitar Musopia app on 8/12/2019: “Justin is fantastic. This app is fantastic. Justin gives you flawless instruction and true motivation to play. It is amazing that in just a couple stages you can play along with real songs. Do your one minute changes. You get out what you put in! You can go from absolute beginner to really being comfortable playing. It won’t happen overnight, but if it’s hard, it’s worth it!

My journey to learn was not without its challenges. I left this comment on a 2020 Nitsuj video: “You will be nailing all these chord changes and songs in a few month’s time! A year ago I thought A Girl Like You would be where I quit playing. I felt like my fingers were baby carrots; I couldn’t change into the chords. If I got the chords right even for two bars in a row, then I forgot how to strum. I’ve come light years since then. We all struggle, but the feeling of triumph is so beautiful. Keep going Justin! Thank you for doing this.” I was making incredibly slow progress on the Dm chord for a while. The barre F-chord felt like it was not possible. “How am I supposed to switch to this chord in songs?” It started out with me doing something like 11 changes from F to C in one-minute (even with the advantage of keeping the 3rd finger on the C note). Every ligament in my hand was at its upper limit. I just could not do it. The B string note would not ring for months. bzzphhh.

Per Justin’s instruction, I set a clear practice routine with SMART short-term and long term-goals. Here are mine from June 2019 (not the gold-standard of specific goals):

Guitar goals [At 6/1/2019]
*Immediate: *
-Work on Root, D,U,D strumming (play “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash)
-Work on playing “House of the Rising Sun” by Tradition with “rake” strumming
-Work on playing “5 Years Time” by Noah and the Whale with the palm-muting strumming pattern
-Improve strength of barre chords. Work on eliminating B chord buzzing.
*-Move between beginner chords (JG beginner’s course chords) effortlessly and with minimal errors *

Medium-term: 10/1/2019
-Improve strength of barre chords. Work on eliminating B chord buzzing.
-Improve strength of minor barre chords. Work on eliminating D chord buzzing.
-One-minute changes: Get all “F to __” changes to 60BPM or faster, with accuracy
-Complete Justin’s beginner’s course. Be able to pass the Consolidation test.

One day, I was able to play Jack Johnson’s song “Banana Pancakes”, which, if you know, is like a barre chord exercise. It was a massive goal reached. Those moments of triumph are so special: so rewarding. Since then, I’ve progressed through his Beginner and Intermediate courses, diligently practicing all the way through, heeding all of his wonderful instruction. I will also plug the Six String Fingerpicking website/YouTuber who has a “Top 60 fingerpicking songs from beginner to advanced” video and lessons for each song. That was of great value to me.

As I said, I’ve found so many great artists that are so creative and talented. Justin has so many song lessons to learn from. I owe it to him that I know of Elliott Smith, what a master. Since then I’ve discovered many of my favorite artists by way of getting curious of other music, then searching for song lessons on YouTube or tabs on Ultimate Guitar (I do a little bit of transcribing, but my ear needs work! I do personalize the tabs to try and make them more usable for me). Learning guitar has given me a grand appreciation for how talented musicians are. To be creative is hard. To find new things and new ways to do things is hard. To challenge what’s already been done is hard. Through my journey, I most appreciate Elliott Smith, Brett Dennen, Nick Mulvey, Jack Johnson, Ben Howard, and Dave Matthews Band. These musicians are all creative geniuses and serve as some of my influences.

I realize this has been long-winded and it’s become praise for Justin. I really am thankful for him and all of the talented people who work to support the mission of teaching the world to play guitar. I feel lucky to be alive during the age of the Internet. It’s relieving to see people using it for good and being so kind and supportive to one another.

Guitar has been so fun and so incredibly rewarding. It will be a close friend for my entire life. Listen to my songs if you like!


Welcome Zack.

Really impressed with what you have achieved in such a short time. Mind blowing actually…


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Welcome to the forum Zack

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Hi Zack,
Welcome, and that’s a nice introduction. :sunglasses:
I wish you lots of fun and a long learning curve :sunglasses:

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Hi Zack.
What an incredible introduction and more. The kind words and praise for Justin’s work are always good to read. What you have done with your guitar learning is incredible. Congratulations on your recordings achievements and overcoming the obstacles that you encountered. You will be an inspiration to many I’m sure.

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Hey Zack, welcome to the community, thanks for your detailed intro, great stuff. The more i play and the better I get, the more in awe I am of the talented musicians I’ve come across, particularly live. The dedication they have to their music and how fastidiously well they perform is mind blowing.

Glad to read you are getting such satisfaction from your journey. I certainly feel the frustration of how challenging it can be, yet, the glow of the reward is wonderful.

Look forward to hearing more from you.

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Hello Zak and welcome to our community. :slight_smile:

That was a great read.

I too enjoy some of the artists that you like.

Welcome Zack, so nice to have you here :hugs:.
Thanks for sharing your interesting story. It’s amazing how far you’ve already come in your journey.

I’m currently working on getting the F chord right. Your words could be mine :sweat_smile: . But it’s always good to read, that sticking with it will bring the desired progress in the end :blush:.

I’m looking forward to hearing more from you and wish you lots of fun along your further guitar journey :smiley:.

Hi Zack and welcome.

Sounds like some goof progress in those 4 years and a clearly mapped out plan to keep you moving forward. Don’t forget the abundance of knowledge that is on hand here, if you ever need it.



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Hi Zack and welcome to the community. It was interesting reading your story and the paths that your learning has taken you. You’re still having fun and excited about all the songs and artists that you have discovered, so I look forward to hearing your playing.

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Hi Zack, welcome to the community. Thank you for sharing the high and low points in your guitar and music journey.

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Wow Zack,

What an introduction so much so soon great going.

Welcome to the party.

A :love_you_gesture:

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Welcome! I’m about an hour south of Buffalo, and just over 3 hours north of Pittsburgh.

It looks like you are well on your way to success. Jam on!

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