Hello Greg here from Tampa Florida

Hello all you Guitar Learners. I am happy to have found Justin Guitar. On my 60th birthday last year, I decided to take the guitar back up again after a 45-year hiatus. But back when I was 15, I learned only a few chords and songs and that was that. But still had that intention to become proficient enough to play with family and friends.

I took some online lessons, but frankly, it was expensive and the teachers I tried were talented players, but not particularly good teachers. But then I found Justin Guitar. I paid for the app for a year, and for a couple of months I have been following the lessons and really enjoy it! I like that he takes the time to explain every little thing in detail.

But I do have a question. The area I am weakest in is playing actual songs. When I play the suggested songs for the the Grade, it doesn’t really sound very good. For example, on Grade 1, Lesson 1, there are songs that just use the D and A chords. Pretty much back and forth which is what I would expect for a beginner. I just use a simple strum patter of strumming on the beat 1, 2, 3, 4 and change chords. But to me, the chords I am playing along with the song (at full speed) don’t really sound like they belong to the song.

So, i am wondering what other people’s experience is with this. Am I reading too much into this? Should I just play along until I can make the beat and chord changes successfully and then move along? My expectation is to play along like I was part of the band, but I am just not feeling it.


Hey @gregoryagu. I suspect at this stage the Songs aren’t really meant to sound great. We’re only learning basics like Chord Perfect and then the One Minute Changes, which in a vacuum are very exercise based and not very “musical”.

The Songs put us in a musical context but it’s still mostly about getting your chord changes and your rhythm in the right spot. And we’re learning basic chords, right, so there’s no flourish or flair there. You’re doing well to hit 4 beats in a bar so just keep it up and then the fancier sounding stuff will come in time.

EDIT: Plus they’re super simple arrangements for beginners like us. They aren’t really the proper versions of the songs, so that’s a big factor.

FWIW I’m finding Songs difficult as they seem to be much heavier on the fingertips than any of the more exercise-y stuff. I wonder if that’s just the duration? I find them pretty heavy going in terms of concentration and finger fatigue.

Hello Greg, my story is a carbon copy of yours. I’m in my early fifties and decided to take up guitar.
I’m not frustrated but my progress is very slow. I guess there is comfort in numbers. Hopefully we will get there soon enough.

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Welcome Greg!

Its all down to practice really, I know we all keep talking about it but really it boils down to time at the guitar.

I’d suggest checking (chord perfect) your chords before strumming and after changes, then just play 1 chord you have perfect and play around with the strumming, mechanical 1,2,3,4 strumming is going to sound well mechanical, its a good start but you need to play around with strumming as much as fingering!

Try just 1 chord and see how varied you can make strumming sound, loud, quiet , strum up, down, try different pleck positions etc

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Welcome to the community. I’ve got a brother in Sarasota. :slight_smile:

When I first started playing, it was simple songs like you mentioned and I could never play them along to the original so good on you for being able to do that.

My early songs were played to my beginner ability and didn’t sound like anything other than my rendition of a well know song. As my skills progressed, some songs I do try and accomplish making them sound like the original and I do that by playing along to the original, sometimes for quite some hours.

I’d encourage you not to be too worried about where you are. It’s a journey and you’ll get to where you are happy before you know it. Playing songs is really important and that’s what you are doing. What makes a difference is knowing the song so well you don’t have to think about it much while playing it.

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Hi Greg,

There are some youtube videos of Justin playing along with the app. For example, Dance the Night Away, and Three Little Birds.

Maybe try along with Justin in the youtube video first just to get the feel of the music and see how it works with the app.

I did this before I ever bought the app and then when I got the app there was a natural feel to it.

Welcome to the community!

Hi Greg, try not to let yourself be too concerned that it doesn’t feel very musical at this point. That’s completely normal. I would encourage you to take a look at some of the Nitsuj Sessions. When Justin was shooting the new version of Grade 1 and Grade 2 last year he decided to test his training methods by teaching a very special student: himself - left-handed! Take a look at some of Justin’s early experiences as his left-handed alter-ego.

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Welcome to the Community, Greg. This is quite usual, experienced by many. Keep practicing being able to strum and change chords with the song in the app. Over time you will build on the strumming pattern and it will become more musical, you will develop better feel. For now lay a solid foundation of keeping the hand moving with the beat, making clean chords, and changing smoothly.

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Hello Greg and welcome. :slight_smile:

It is true what others have said. Remember that when a song is produced there is normally more than just a guitar in there, which helps to create the whole song.

I have found as I have gone along that the strumming pattern you use really helps to bring the song to life, when you are just using a guitar. This comes with practice.

So keep with the basics to help build a solid foundation and you will notice as your skill level grows so does your song sound.

Hey thanks for the suggestion! I was thinking that there ought to be such a video, and now I have found it and listened to it. It definitely sounds musical when he does it. Of course, he adds in some flare, but that is to be expected and I am sure I will learn more as I go along.

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Thanks @CharlieHutcheson Good suggestions! Will keep up the practice

Thanks @SgtColon Yes, the strumming patterns are still a weak point for me, will keep at it!

Thanks @DavidP, appreciate the feedback!

Welcome to the community. Don’t worry too much about the song practice not sounding like the song at this stage. That will all come together eventually as you progress through the course. At the early stages of Grade 1, it’s all about laying a solid foundation and strumming the chord right on the beat.

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Hello Greg!

Welcome to the community!

In the very early modules is totally normal that the songs don’t sound like the ones on the records.

I went through the whole grade 1 until consolidation only with the Justin in-app versions of the songs. I thought of those 5 minutes of practicing songs just as another exercise. Then, for consolidation, I looked into the songs lessons to learn something more like the originals :slight_smile:

My recommendation would be to just trust the process and enjoy all that you can


Hey, I didn’t see anyone say this yet so I’ll throw it out (incase you’re over looking this one thing). I found a lot of songs in the beginner modules had been down tuned in the original recording or need a capo to use the open chord shapes (at least the ones I picked). So you’re A and D chords aren’t going to sound good unless you retune your guitar or capo it.

For example, dance the night away will need a capo at the 2nd fret to be done with A and D chords with the original recording.

The text description in the module tells you what tuning to use or where to capo, but some songs are missing that (Incase you don’t know what capo means, it’s using a clip to hold all the strings against a specific fret so your fingers don’t have to).

As for playing along like you’re part of the band: it took me about a year of playing before I could play in time and sound like I was part of the band (at least for simple songs). In fact, it took 3 months before I could even play something that sounded kind of like music. Guitar is hard :triumph:

Hope this helps

welcome @gregoryagu !

playing along with the original song isn’t always that easy, especially if you still have to master the F chord and the rest of the E shape and A shappe barrés

Often times, songs are transposed to other keys to fit the course better. These songs serve the aim of learning and practicing these chords.

As you progress, you will learn to transpose to other keys yourself, which might come in handy if you aren’t able to play certain barre chords yet etc.

Playing along with songs isn’t always as easy as you think and I don’t find it the best practice. While the app works through songs, it’s goal is to train the basic muscle memory of chord shapes, changing chords, playing in rhythm.

LISTENING to the original though to learn its nuances, flow, rhythm, structure is very useful though.

Look at song like it is a pyramid.
The base layer is knowing what structure of the song is.

example Verse-verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chrous-solo-chrous-chorus
now break up each of these sections; each of these sections always (98% of the time) the same chords in the same order.
so focus on learning each secton, but just the chords. Don’t try to play along too much in this fase, try to play it through or at least get to know the sections. Putting chords together, smoothly strumming them, minding a steady flow.

You can’t really go and learn a song without doing that first, or you’ll be the guitarists that knows how to play 20 intro tunes and that’s it. (Trust me, I started out like that, it was totally useless :D)

Listen to the song again to see your timings are ok. Don’t focus on playing along too much but focus on the listening. like drawing is 80%, learning and playing songs is 80% listening :wink:

You’ll spot some parts you change chords too early or too late and in the meantime, you get even more familiar with the flow of the rhythm; where are the accents in the strumming? are there half bars with changing chords?

Your base layer is nearly done and it will solidy even more while you play more.

you can play the song completely, even though you don’t bother with lead parts now.
Try building upon your base layer now by incorporating the main hooks or making your chord strums sound like they go with it. Some songs have harder riffs but you don’t actually need that to have a solid and recogniseable song. You can worry about the later.
Notice how you still are playing your own song and not trying to go together with the original song too much.

Later on, you build more specific but less structurally crucial layerson top of that.

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Hello Greg. A warm welcome to the community.
I hear you and sympathise with your hardship of playing songs in the very early stages. Basically, at the very beginner stages, you are teaching your hands and fingers and arms etc to do lots of new movements. Key at your stages are gaining and maintaining a rhythm and going for chord changes. Playing along with either the original song or Justin’s app version gives you the context, purpose and sound of the song. If you just play those 1-strum per bar progressions with no song playing and no context it is not going to sound all that musical to begin with. That is par for the course. Keep going, and do not stop from learning songs. :slight_smile:

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Hey @LievenDV , Thank you so much for the advice, great stuff here. I really appreciate that so many people in the community have reached out to help me along, I thank all of you for the moral and technical support.

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Thanks @bbruner , I didn’t know that about the capo. I am going to give that a try!

I have come a long way in a short time with Justin and look forward to continuing.