Hi from Stephen, a beginner for 45 years in North Carolina, USA

Hello everyone,

Another 66 year old who has been stuck at the beginner level for 45 years. I will admit that I am an advanced beginner who mostly plays beginner open chords, but I have strummed and played for sing-alongs, etc., if I have the chords in front of me. Here is a short version of my guitar journey and why I am excited about the new JustinGuitar course.

I started out learning the guitar in the summer of 1974 following my first year of college. There was a US Public Broadcasting show called “Folk Guitar with Laura Weber” produced by KWED San Francisco. I was blown away at the time that I could watch a television broadcast in my home and methodically learn to play guitar. In the appropriately named lesson 13, I forced myself to play a 4 string F chord on a cheap Harmony Stella guitar (a glorified plywood box) and was occasionally rewarded with a few audible notes from my torture. Later that year I obtained a pawn shop nylon string classical guitar and my fingers were much happier. Unfortunately I had to go back to college and never finished watching the series. I still have the book, but never found a copy of those old videos.

I was happy with strumming open chords and playing popular songs, but then became frustrated that I couldn’t advance any further. I took a couple of lessons from a teacher that used the Mel Bay methods, but that didn’t last long. When I graduated college I got a book on learning classical music, since that seemed to go beyond chords, but all I learned was how to sight read in the first position.

There was a long time where life took over and the guitar gathered dust for several years. The one day I was listening to the radio in 1999 and I heard SRV’s Little Wing. I was both mesmerized and blown away. Over time I purchased all the SRV records and books and started hanging out at newsstands, getting all the guitar magazines. I got dozens of blues methods books and some DVDs and bought a Mexican made Fender Strat. The only progress I made was getting the Guitar for Dummies book and learning how to bend notes.

The years passed and I made very little progress, playing only occasionally. I was too overwhelmed by all the instruction that’s was out there. I had a lot of beginning guitar books and advanced blues books but no way to bridge the gap.

Finally I found the JustinGuitar site and was so thrilled with the instruction, that I ending up getting every book and DVD on the website at the time. I worked through the old classic beginners level course, but got stuck in the intermediate level course. The part of Justin’s course that impressed me the most was the way Justin demonstrates the beginner version of a song and then walks you through the ways that you can modify the performance to become more sophisticated and reach an intermediate level song. But I was too impatient to really work through the consolidation phase and I never participated in the online discussion groups.

Now I am back and working through the new beginners level (grade 1 to 3) lessons and really like the changes that Justin has made, especially adding the lessons on famous Riffs, most of which I had never learned. I also like the new practice assistant since it keeps me honest. I look forward to more consistent practice now that I am retired at the “young” age of 66 and can eventually master the intermediate level blues lessons. With JustinGuitar I think I have found a road map to keep me from getting lost in the guitar instruction jungle.


Hey welcome! Sounds like you’ve found the right way forward form beginner to intermediate.

I think we all hit a bit of a wall sometimes with ‘what next’

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Thanks. I am also trying to take Justin’s advice to heart - if you want to get better you need to practice what you don’t know, not just what you know.

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Hey Stephen, welcome to the community. Your post reminded me of a Justin lesson on the types of songs we should practice.

I always have a handful of what justin call’s campfire songs and what I call low hanging fruit on the go at any one time.

The more complicated songs, the developer and dreamer songs do certainly keep me motivated.

Welcome to the Community, Stephen. Thanks for sharing the journey. I think if you follow Justin’s courses, trust in his structure and progression you’ll bridge those gaps and achieve your aspirations.

Hello Stephen and welcome to the community. :slight_smile:

Hopefully retirement will give you plenty of learning time to help you get to where you want to be.

Hi Stephen and welcome :sunglasses:

Hey and welcome!
Following Justin’s method will definitely get you past the beginner stage as you’ve already discovered!

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement.

Hi Stephen. Welcome to the community.
There are lots of us who’ve had guitar journeys similar to yours, including me. The 2 things that affected my guitar journey the most were: 1) Connecting up to Justin Guitar instruction 2) Retirement
The relative ease of prioritizing my time in retirement has enabled me to play for 1- 3 hours just about every day. I can play without thinking about the other things that I need to do or get so busy with work that I don’t play for a week or more. JG instruction provides me with the structure to develop new skills. I often wander off for periods of time to learn to new songs or refine ones using new skills, but I eventually return to the course-ware to practice skills and learn new ones. This combination has worked well to for me.
Enjoy the journey.

I wasn’t sure if everyone was seeing my name from my profile, but I was dissatisfied with my username, so I have edited and changed to SteveL_G99. I hope that doesn’t cause a problem.

Steve L.

I logged out and logged back in and the username is updated. Looks like the software took care of the username change automatically.

I also edited my first name in my profile, so problem solved.

Thanks for the reply. I wish I could dedicate 3 hours a day to guitar, but surprisingly I have competing interests that limit my time even in retirement. I have solved the problem of consistency by setting aside an hour in the morning when I first get up and read a couple of pages in a book that I have wanted to read, then working on 4 to 8 pages of new guitar exercises or music. Then no matter what happens the rest of the day, I am making progress.

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Having a time that you can depend on to play is key, more so than duration IMO. Your morning routine is a good one.
I’ve found that as I’ve developed I want and need more play time. I don’t get 3 hours every day, but 1 hour goes by SO fast. 1.5 to 2 is more satisfying and 3 allows me to work on the backlog of things I want to practice or learn. If I get a 3hr session once or twice a week I feel great, and lucky.

To show what I mean when I call myself an advanced beginner, I thought that I would attach this picture of me playing at an Earth Day event in 2005. I am just playing This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, which is a Grade 1 song with 3 chords. Someone invited me to play because they knew I could sing and play the guitar. After some hesitation, I practiced the song and played for the first time with other musicians. and in front of more than 100 people. I received the best complement that I have ever received when afterwards the drummer commented that I am a good rhythm guitarist with a steady rhythm.
It just goes to show that a simple song played well is sometimes all you need.

p.s. I don’t remember what key I played in, but obviously it had a D chord, so it was either the key of G, D or A.

That is a huge compliment coming from the drummer. Being able to sing is another plus. Having some fundamental skills to draw upon makes the learning process more fun and easier… for a while :grinning:

Welcome Steve,

You definitely right about the practice assistant. Once I got to grips with how to make this work it made such a big difference to how I practiced and really does stop you just meandering about during practice time.

Enjoy the journey.

Hi Stephen, welcome. Good you found Justin Guitar and you are covering all the material from the begining. You can advance at your own pace. You can move quickly when you are covering something you already know or mastered and spend more time on what is new or harder for you. Later if you want you can revisit some of the learning material you had from before and find that you have finally undertood what it was about.

Since I finished the old beginners course, but basically took a couple of years off, now I have to start over again training my muscle memory. I have the head knowledge but I just have to practice enough the get my hands and fingers to obey my brain. I started from the beginning with the 2 chord changes in order to regrow my calluses. I’ve also focused on all of Justin’s strumming tips since my strumming has gotten a little rusty. I purchased the skinny white and the thicker orange Dunlop picks on Amazon per Justin’s suggestion, but I think I’ll try to find a thin pick that is a little less floppy and provides a more satisfying click when you strum.

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