Hi y'all! It's Oliver from Germany

Hello everybody!

My name is Oliver, I’m from Germany and 42 years old. I bought my first guitar just over a week ago – and now I’m here :wink:

I’ve been playing the piano for about 35 years, and I guess this also helped me to build up a good music theory background. I also played clarinet and saxophone for a few years in my youth, but stopped decades ago.

I guess I just wanted to know how to play another instrument. I guess I chose the guitar because a lot of people seem to play it and I thought it would be rather easy (boy, was I wrong!). And you can play it on your own and it might be quite helpful to be able to accompany songs without always carrying around my keyboard or stage piano.

I learned rather quickly that I started this journey with completely wrong expectations. I thought that after a couple of months you would know all the usual chords (say, all major and minor chords). And if that’s enough for you, you can stop there and accompany all kinds of songs reasonably well. Or you just continue and also learn those 7, m7, sus, diminished, augmented, … chords.

In reality, I was already quite frustrated after my very first practice session – when I noticed that playing the guitar makes your fingers hurt (and they hurt constantly since then). After another day I had somehow “mentally” accepted this. But now it frustrates me that I can’t seem to get the hand and finger position right, I can’t play a “clean” D chord, my wrist hurts, and so on. I’ve already posted some questions and comments in other discussions. Maybe you’ve already read my whining there :see_no_evil:

I just don’t see any real progress after this first week. On the contrary, the more I try to focus on “good” hand and finger posture the worse my chords get (especially the D chord, A is a bit better). I guess that playing the guitar is by far the hardest thing I have ever tried in my whole life. And I don’t really know what I’m doing wrong and how to do it right.

How long does it usually take until this gets better? I’m not sure how much longer I can push myself through that frustration. :wink:


Hi Oliver,

I started with Justin in mid-2020. At that time, I experienced the painful fingertips until the calluses formed and then it has been mostly smooth going, although a couple of week-long or longer breaks tended to soften them a bit. You are definitely right that learning guitar is a lot harder than learning other instruments but that’s no reason to stop. Your hands will adjust and not only will the fingertip pain go away, but you will gradually get better at playing.

I found that taking a day or two off really helps some times. Besides giving your hands a break, you will find your fingers find their places on the frets easier. At least that’s what I found. Justin encourages beginners to take a break every three or four days, if I remember correctly.

Don’t beat yourself up for struggling with a chord. Follow Justin’s advice and do the Chord Perfect exercises, and the chord transition exercises. I was pumped to find my number of transitions increasing over time as I did One-Minute-Changes during each practice.

Good luck to you and keep at it! The songs will come. And oh, yes, do play easy songs at the beginning. Even if you think you sound awful, you will improve and just strumming those tunes will give you joy!

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Hi Bob,

thanks for your encouraging words.

I have to take Monday off anyhow because there’s the weekly rehearsal with “my” choir and I usually don’t get home until after 11 pm. I tried to practice for 20-30 minutes on all the other days. Only yesterday I sat here for 2 1/2 hours, trying to get a clean D chord with a “good” finger position. But there was hardly any progress, no matter how often I tried. Only my wrist hurt at the end. :see_no_evil:

The funny thing is: I can do the OMC exercise, and I got more than 30 changes from the beginning. And quickly (on the 3rd or 4th day) I could do 40 or 50. And they kind of sounded like A and D but they were really all unclean and sloppy. So I thought to myself: that can’t be the point. But what is the point? And how do I get to this point?

Regarding the songs: I think that’s not really my big goal. I can also just practice the D chord for 2 1/2 hours. And that would be perfectly fine if I could see any progress :wink:

Hey Oliver,

Don’t spend 2 1/2 hours at a time trying to perfect a chord. It takes time for it to “sink in” I found. I wouldn’t spend more than 1 hour at a time (and at the very beginning, that’s enough for a single day) so that you don’t get frustrated and too sore.

My advice is to not be in a big hurry. Learning guitar takes time, but it is totally worth it! Almost two years in, I am enjoying playing songs and noodling on the guitar. I’m 66 years old and you can learn this at any age. You’ve got the advantage of many more years ahead of you to get better!

Have fun!


Welcome to the Community, Olivier. Lots of wise encouragement and advice already given, that I agree with. Stick with it and you will get the hang of it. And once the fingers get used to forming chords, you may find that the following chords are learned more easily … until the next more challenging thing comes along.

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Hi David,

from you guys this all sounds so easy :wink: … But I know what you mean, thanks for that!

Maybe I’m just not up to regular challenges. Life itself is challenging enough in this crazy world … :wink:


Hi Oliver, it’s not easy it’s a lifetime occupation; I’ve been learning for most of my life (I’m 70 now) and still am learning new to me things. I came to JustinGuitar 6 years ago and have learned more about playing guitar than I had the rest of my life!
Take your time and work through it patiently, your previous experience will help once you get through the early stages. An important thing that you should familiarise yourself with is the fingerboard, as guitar isn’t a linear instrument like the Piano there are several places you can play the same note, this means that standard notation sometimes isn’t enough to tell you how to play something, that’s why a combination of TAB and notation works best. Take your time, have fun and enjoy yourself!

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Hi Oliver,
In addition to what others have said and with the caveat that everyone learns differently…

Re: practicing the same thing for long periods of time
I would limit practicing any one specific thing, like working on D, to relatively small chunks like 10 mins or even less, then practice other things, like A and transitions and return to the first thing if you have time. Breaking up the practice time into 2 separate chunks during the day is another thing to consider. I find that when I start to get frustrated with something its time to stop and work on something else for a while.

I think it’s important to get the chords clear, e.g. “chord perfect”, before trying to speed up OMC. I.e., Get OMC to where the chords are clear most of the time before speeding up. Paraphrasing a few different guitar teachers including Justin: you can’t play something fast if you can’t play it slow.

Re: learning guitar after playing piano for 35 years
Having skills from another instrument may make it more frustrating to because you already know a lot musically and have expectations. My non-musical example: I decided to learn to snowboard after skiing for 15 years (my son wanted me to learn with him). It was initially very frustrating because I wanted/expected to be able to get to similar skill level on the board that I had on skis in a fairly short period of time. I finally realized that I had to commit to the board and just go through the learning curve. I haven’t been on skis in 20 years and I am a much better boarder now than I ever was a skier.

Re: this all sounds so easy
Its not easy. It does take time. In your case you already have a lot of musical knowledge that you’ll be able to apply as you develop guitar skills if you decide to stay with it.

Good luck!


Hi David,

thanks a lot for your tips!

Breaking up the practice into 2 chunks might be hard. I usually leave for work before 8 am and get back home at about 6 pm. So the evening is the only time for practice. I could do 2 chunks on the weekend, though. I think I’ll give that a try.

That’s absolutely true. And – especially if it is something rhythmic – playing it slow and thourough is even harder.

I’m completely hopeless on skis. :joy: I had two skiing trips in school when I was 12/13. Those were the 2 worst weeks of my entire school career. :see_no_evil: I’ve never been on skis since. :joy:

Eine ganze Woche dran, und du beherrschst dein Instrument immer noch nicht
Schmeiß die Scheiße weg! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :rofl:
Welcome to hell, my son!

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Hey Oliver, welcome to the community, I come from a German family / background. One thing that makes the guitar worth the pain is that you can easily carry it around as compared to a piano. When I started playing, my goal was to play 15 minutes a day but the pain was such that I could only play for 5 minutes at a time so I did that at least 3 times a day. I can’t remember exactly how long it took before the pain went away, but it wasn’t all that long before calluses started to develop and I could play longer. Look forward to hearing more from you.

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Hallo Oliver:

There is an old German song with lyrics… Alles Kommt Zu Ihm erwarten Kann… Munchner Freiheit I think. Patience is the key! You have an advantage playing piano because you understand the counting, rhythm, and music theory. An A minor on a piano should sound similar to one a guitar right? Once you get past the finger pain it is all uphill. A lot of us here tried and failed and came back years later. I used to be a drummer as a child and 25 years later I picked up a guitar and still knew 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. Take it one step at a time, 1 day at a time or even 30 minutes at a time. Learn something easy as a confidence builder und naturlich Ich wunsche viel vergnugen here.

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Hi Oliver!! And welcome !!

Facinating story you have. My advice for you is purely from my perspective and experience.

Do not rush anything. Just take your time. I have played a little over 1 year and i «struggle» every day. I find that guitar playing is not easy at all. I struggle with timing, i struggle with chords pretty much every thing…
But i belive the key for me is that i just love playing guitar, i dont see it as a «struggle» if i did i would probably have dropped this thing after a few weeks.

Dont stress it. Try to go slowly. Do those perfect chord changes every day. Perfect chord changes is the «drill» that has been best for me.
Try to play songs as early as possible.

With your background you have everything going for you, im jealous that you will probably not have any issues with timing. That is a big issue for me.

just dont stress this. It all takes time.

Please dont quit this early, you have only played for «weeks»
When i can play a few chords on a guitar. You can do it… no doubt.

Keep at it. and enjoy the ride :grin: Looking forward to see you play!!

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Hi Tony,

thanks for your reply!

That’s absolutely right. Even my keyboard is quite heavy, and you need a large stand and so on. In the beginning, I was really surprised how light a guitar is. However, I’m not quite sure at the moment where to carry it. :joy:

Hi Jeff,

thanks for your reply! I know Münchener Freiheit, but I didn’t know that particular song. I looked it up, it’s called “Alles kommt zu dem, der warten kann” (translated “All comes to him who can wait”).

From experience I know that once I quit, I will most probably never try again. So let’s hope that this doesn’t happen. :wink:

My father was a drummer, and I guess I picked up a lot from him. Today, most “rhythmic things” really come quite natural to me. On-beat, off-beat, syncopation, …, the “normal” stuff. I’ve never got my grip around things like polyrhythms and such. But that doesn’t bother me :wink:

Hi Trond,

thanks for your reply!

I guess I really like the guitar. I like how it looks, how it feels. I like how it sounds. I just don’t like how it sounds if I try to play a D chord :joy:

I guess I’m just not the most patient person. And I guess I’m just not ready for another daily “struggle” (no matter if you see it as “good” or “bad” struggle). Life is hard enough … with work, and what is currently going on in this crazy world. But let’s see how it goes over the next couple of weeks.

Don’t be jealous, you don’t have to. I’m pretty sure there are other things you are much better at than I will ever be. Patience, for example :joy:

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There is nothing wrong with a few floppy chords when playing.
I can not play a song without at least one floppy chord :rofl:

D chord is a hard one to play out clear, i struggle with it from time to time as well. And it can be hard on your fingers.

And yes. See what you mean with daily struggles… with all the crazy things going on in the world, i like to play even more so i dont have to think about it… but thats just me :grin:

Hope you stick with it and find your way. :+1:

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Hello Oliver - a proper hello in your introductory topic.
I have seen and replied to some of your topics.
The main things I would say here are that you will receive only helpful and encouraging replies to your questions and concerns, and that your frustrations are common among every who picks up a guitar to learn. :slight_smile:

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@tRONd if you’re describing your playing and singing as struggling, what am I doing? Hope to ever get to the point you are already!

Hi Again Oliver,

See you later…
Greetings Rogier

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