József's Learning Log

Copying the text from the old forum: Jozsef's Road Case

August 15, 2021

“What’s it going to be then, eh?”

I used to have a colleague who had his own semi-professional band in which he sang and played guitar. Over a few months, we talked more and more often about music and I somehow got inspired to try to play the guitar. I had no musical background, but I’ve always liked to listen to music and do some research on the things I liked.

So I thought, why not give it a chance and see what happens? That was in 2019, and after a few weeks of deliberation, research and finding Justin’s channel on YouTube by chance, I made the big leap and now I’m here starting this thread.

So what made me think it would be a reasonable idea to pick up any instrument at the age of almost 30 without any previous attempt? Apart from my colleague mentioned in the opening post and the fact that by that time I earned enough money so that the potential failure of this project would not automatically lead to a significant financial loss, the easiest answer would be “I don’t know”.

Well, it probably isn’t as simple as that.

My earliest music-related memory is when my dad used to listen to Deep Purple in Rock and I tried to imitate Ian Gillan’s shrieks in Bloodsucker. I think I nailed it pretty much every time. I was around 3 or 4 years-old at the time and the high pitches were much easier on my vocal chords back then.

I had some toy instruments as well (I still have them stored away somewhere) - two plastic melodicas (though I didn’t know their name at that time) and a battery powered toy piano which I can’t remember ever playing but its missing parts show that it encountered my still barely self-conscious self in the early 1990s (if it had not had a previous owner). Probably because the melodicas were quite loud, I never became too fond of them. I could never play any melody or even a pleasant-sounding group of notes on them anyway. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve never shown any inclination towards playing music - I did not repeat any melodies, did not recognize the same notes in different songs, etc. I may have liked singing but I can’t remember clearly. I just wasn’t interested in making music, but I liked what my parents listened to. Actually, I still don’t know about anyone in my family who has had a more than cursory interest in music.

August 21, 2021

Let’s see my current gear (thanks for the interest) :slight_smile:

1. Fender CD-60 Dread V3 DS

My first guitar, bought on 28 August, 2019 and photographed a few days later.

It has served me ever since. It cost about 170 USD (current exchange rate) - I didn’t want to buy anything too expensive as a first instrument. It may not be a top acoustic model, but I like it anyway, I got accustomed to it quite quickly.

In the autumn, I’m planning to have the saddle replaced as it seems the unwound strings are starting to make a groove in it. I’d also like to replace the original bridge pins with fully black ones, just for the looks.

2. Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro

My first, and for the foreseeable future only, electric guitar. Bought on 13 December, 2019 and photographed the next day.

It cost about 570 USD (current exchange rate). For some reason, it was a bit cheaper than other Epiphone Les Paul models, but I can’t complain about this one either. I’ve removed the stickers since then.

3. Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

I purchased it by the time I had the electric guitar. I was looking for a practice amp that is not too big and bulky for home use (it weight about 7 kg but doesn’t feel as heavy). It has quite a few combinations of settings to choose from, but I use it set to “British 60s” about 95% of the time as it has a cleaner sound than the other options. I prefer to add other effects, distortion or echo on a cleaner tone rather than on a “pre-distorted one”, and I prefer practicing for technique with a cleaner sound.

4. Vox V847 wah-wah pedal

Purchased this summer but I had been toying with the idea of a wah wah pedal before that. I’m not into adding gazillions of effects to the guitar and pedal boards never turned me on, so this one feels just about enough. The tone is pleasant, but I still have to work on my hand-foot synchronization. I still haven’t decided if it’s more comfortable to use it with my right or left foot (I’m right handed).

5. Yamaha FG820-12 twelve-string acoustic guitar

The latest addition to my arsenal, bought exactly a week ago for about 500 USD (current exchange rate). It’s fully acoustic, no electronics in it whatsoever :slight_smile:

I’m still only getting the hang of it but it feels pretty comfortable to play. As suggested in my other thread on 12-string playing, I tuned it down to Eb which gives it a richer sound compared to my six-string. I think I’ll start this years’ guitar check up season with this one as the nut action still seems to be a tad too high for barre chords or fingering notes at the 1st fret. My technique is also to be developed, especially string muting and picking individual courses of strings (not even mentioning getting a good sound with an upstroke).

6. Miscellaneous

König & Meyer 101 music stand

This was a bit of a “vanity project” for me, it certainly gives off an air of professionalism ;D Seriously, it’s a great addition to anyone’s gear. The stand is light but sturdy, collapsible (comes with a cool bag for transportation) or can be extended depending on your preference. I use it set to a height comfortable with sitting down (I usually play sitting anyway). It’s similar to a guitar stand in the way that you can leave your notes, sheet music, etc. on it and it gives a bit more inspiration to carry on practicing.

Proel FC-820 double guitar stands

I don’t have separate pics of these as they are visible on the other ones. They have a kind of foam padding on the arms which do not damage the finish of the body. They are easy to use and keep the guitars nice and firm. The height of the neck rest can be adjusted. The first one holds my six-string and electric, and I bought a new one for the twelve string. The design seems to have changed a tiny bit as the legs of the new stand are slightly less wide apart.

I don’t know if it’s a suitable solution to keep two acoustic guitars on it; at least, the headstocks of my acoustics seem to be too big to let the necks rest on the neckpieces.

Hercules GSP38WB Plus guitar hanger

Having just praised my floor stands, I’m thinking about hanging my guitars on the wall; not only for the visuals, but also because the room has got a wee bit crowded with the newcomer twelve-string, the pedal and the music stand. I also wouldn’t have to move the guitars to the other room when I do the vacuum cleaning. I could still keep one of the floor stands for a guitar I’d happen to use more frequently. Anyway, it’s still only a plan.

Straps

I used to have Ernie Ball straps (solid black and gold & black paisley) on my six-string, but a few months ago I just unstrapped it. I play it sitting down mostly anyway, and without a strap I can hold it closer to me, or in a different angle. I used to watch Jorma Kaukonen’s quarantine concerts and none of his guitars were strapped (also to facilitate swapping guitars, I guess), so I thought I would give it a shot and it worked.

I’ve got a crimson paisley Ernie Ball strap on the electric. I chose the colour to match that of the guitar. It’s good to have it on as the Les Paul type guitars are heavier than usual. Well, it’s my first electric and doesn’t feel heavy at all to me, but when I pick up a Fender or a hollowbody at a guitar store just like I pick up mine, the difference in the weight becomes quite noticeable.

I have a leather strap as well which I intended for my electric, but I just couldn’t fit the strap button in the hole in the strap. Maybe I’ll give it another go sometime later.

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August 21, 2021

And now another look back…

My parents had a roughly similar taste in music; they liked rock music from the 1960s and 1970s the most. We didn’t have either vinyl records or a turntable but quite a few tapes (i.e. audio cassettes). Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Vangelis were the earliest artists I remember listening to. I still have these tapes, but I wouldn’t risk playing them again as they are quite old and might get damaged. There were two Beatles tapes as well, Help! and Yellow Submarine. I liked them, but back then I just couldn’t listen to Only a Northern Song, I felt it was literally unlistenable. Of course, my stance changed over the years.

We bought our first CDs and a stereo with a CD player in 1998 or so, and that’s when I first heard Led Zeppelin (on a compilation). We bought some various artists CDs as well, and I used to make compilation tapes for myself, trying to get a good flow in the sequencing. Looking back, it was a bit time-consuming but quite enjoyable nonetheless.

We had our first VHS player too in the late 1990s, and that was when I first saw Woodstock Diary, a sort of “outtakes” version of the original Woodstock movie. Of course, I usually skipped the acts of day 1 (later on, I got to like Richie Havens, too), but the rest seemed and sounded quite interesting. About the same time, I found among my “old” toys a set of construction game with wooden elements and plastic screws, nuts, bolts, tools, etc. It had enough pieces so that I could assemble something that vaguely resembled a guitar. Not having heard of guitar strings (or luthiers) back then, I used a pair of postal rubber bands with one half stretched and the other half a bit slacker. Somehow I realized that when the guys with the guitars in the film moved their hands closer to the wide part of the guitar, the pitch got higher, and if they moved their hands towards the thin end, the pitch got lower. Luckily, the same tactic worked with the rubber bands as well, so I could pretend a bit more convincingly that I was doing something like they did. Oh, blissful ignorance :) The musicality of what I was doing did not cross my mind even for a second. It was more about the motions and doing something fun while listening to/watching the music I liked. It was probably more beneficial to my sense of rhythm than my sensitivity to intervals. I used to have a couple of notebooks bound in plastic leather which I used as “drums” but that was more like bashing around. I could never figure out the finer aspects of drumming, but it was also good fun.

While in elementary school, I stumbled upon a book in the school library called Rock Encyclopedia or something like that, published in the 1980s. Basically, it was a book listing the members and the albums of foreign rock groups. There were quite a few typos in it as it turned out later in the age of Internet, but it was a good start. I’ve always liked history, and it was something like a musical history book, even if not 100% accurate. It became a hobby of sorts, too, creating imaginary groups with the members, start and end dates of their tenures, albums, timeline, etc. Kind of a musical fan-fiction. All in all, my interest in music was somewhat “academic” back then. I still wasn’t interested in music enough to justify me going to a music school, and we couldn’t afford any kind of instruments. In my early teens, it still did not occur to me that playing actual music was something to be considered. I could never sing too well, and after my voice broke, it became even less engaging. With general musical education in Hungary being as it is (or was back then), I didn’t feel a strong engagement towards any serious musical activity.

August 26, 2021

Looking back on my secondary school and university years, I can’t say I got much closer to actual music-making. However, there were still some important steps I took in that direction.

During one of our trips in secondary school, I got hold of one of my classmates’ guitar. It was a black acoustic-electric one, but I can’t remember the brand. To quote a classic, “the finger pain was real”. (Much more real than when I really started to learn to play.) Fortunately, only one or two other people were in the room so I didn’t cause a general uproar. I don’t know why the owner let me mess around with it, but he did. I can’t remember playing anything worthwhile, but those few hours were enough to satisfy my curiosity. Later on, one of my classmates told me he remembered me playing the riff of Smoke on the Water on that trip. I guess he confused me with someone else.

When I was about 14-16, I had a habit of tinkering with mp3 files in Windows Wave Editor (I think it was the name) and later in Audacity. I had quite a lot of fun with applying various effects to already existing songs, e.g. reversing certain sections or adding reverse echo, delay, turning mono music into sort-of stereo by adding a bit of delay between the two channels, things like that. I probably still have some of those files saved somewhere. I guess I had a lot of time on my hands back then.

However, much more important was in my musical education that with the advent of the Internet, I gained access to a seemingly unlimited source of information on musicians and their work. For a time, I saved a huge amount of photos of my favourite bands, most of which showed their instruments as well so I started to notice the difference between various guitar brands. During my secondary school years I was a volunteer translator on the Hungarian Wikipedia, focusing mostly on articles about rock music, albums, groups and musical genres. That was a very valuable lesson as I managed to absorb quite a lot of information. When I was in my late teens / early 20s, I branched out into funk and jazz as well, and my general taste in music became more diverse. But that period was still really about listening to music.

After I received my MA diploma (I studied English literature), I started to work and my interested shifted towards cinema and filmmaking. I never got the chance to become a professional in that field, but I consider it a very special art form that managed to fill a biggish hole in my life and education.

And this is roughly the period where I started my reminiscences with one of my ex-colleagues with whom I started to talk about music and playing the guitar.

Well, so much for my portrait as a young man. :)

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August 29, 2021

Having written so much about my past, I’m a bit unsure of what to continue with, so I’ll just jot down my current practice routine, or at least the topics I’m working on (or should be) at the moment.

1. Music Theory

I started the theory course sometime last year and it was a series of revelations for me. Being somewhat analytically oriented, the construction of triad chords and the relationship of chords and keys were nothing short of an enlightenment.

Currently, I’m in module 4.1 and learning the triad grips (mostly major and minor) on strings 1-2-3 and 2-3-4.

2. “The” course itself

When I started in 2019, it was still the classic version of the beginner course, but when the new version came out I switched over to that one. Due to family reasons, I couldn’t spend as much time on practicing last year as I would have liked to. Given that I covered some of the ground in the classic version, the percentages of finished lessons in the new beginner grades 1 and 2 are quite spotty. It is in my agenda to properly work on and finish those lessons.

However, this didn’t stop me from dipping into various parts of the intermediate grades.

3. Intermediate Grade 4

E shape barre chords

As barre chords were introduced already in the beginner course, I checked out the major and minor shapes in this module. These lessons provide a solid base for practice.

Major scale maestro 1

I’m still only at pattern 1, but the “chords in keys” aspect ties in with the theory course perfectly.

Although, some pentatonic “jamming” now and then never hurts…

Rhythm maestro

Rhythm playing is definitely something that I need to work on (more on that shortly), so I checked this module when it came out. Actually, I managed to do Justin’s tests with 1 or 2 mistakes, so all this might not be in vain.

4. Intermediate Grade 5

The modules and lessons here are more diverse. The ones that I dug deeper into:

A shape major barre chords

Holy Moly. It’s getting better, but was it weird for the first few days. My ring finger sometimes felt just about to break, literally.

FOLK FINGERSTYLE

This is definitely the holy grail so far this year, though I’m still only at patterns 1 and 3 and the first pattern that Justin teaches in the beginner course.

I learned Happy Birthday finger style last year from the video and the tab with not really knowing what fingerstyle playing was about. I played it to my mother twice in a row and she was quite moved by it. Unfortunately, I can’t play it to her anymore, even though it would have much more flow to it now.

5. Strumming and rhythm playing

I decided to sort my rhythm playing out and go back to square one. I collected all strumming-related lessons from the new courses and saved them as bookmarks in my browser, so I have some 30-odd “chapters” to digest.

Actually, a useful feature for the website would be the addition of tags, e.g. strumming, picking, chords, etc. which would facilitate searching for a given topic.

6. Songs

To be honest, learning complete songs has not been my priority yet. It’s probably because I don’t sing and don’t plan to perform to others (for the foreseeable future), or maybe I’m just lazy, I don’t know.

Having said that, I’m working on a campfire-style thing with a C - Am - F - G progression which gives a good opportunity to perfect my Am - F changes. I’ve been working on it for a week and it’s getting better.

Yesterday I listened to Radio Activity by Kraftwerk and I got the idea to “record my own interpretation” of it. Wow, that sounds pretty pompous of me, but I think it would be fun tinkering with the melody and getting used to record myself. (I managed to hook up my amp with my laptop and record my guitar in Audacity!)

I think I’ll post about my previous attempts at learning to play other people’s music in a separate post.

7. Ear training

My enemy no. 1. More about it later.

September 07, 2021

The past week or so I’ve been slacking a bit due to household issues and some kind of general fatigue, but today I seem to be back on track.

Last Friday I took my new 12 string home from the luthier and it plays much easier than before. The nut slots had to be filed down quite a bit (the action is visibly lower) and the truss rod had to be adjusted to straighten the neck, so now I can actually fret an E barre chord (the guitar is tuned down a semitone). Yaaaay! :D

However, I found that my capo (an Ortega TWCAPO-CR) is either too weak/short or a bit more filing is needed for the slots of the upper octave strings on courses 4-6. The thing is that I can fret those courses with my fingers all right, but my capo cannot, which is quite baffling, to be honest. ???

I tried the capo on frets 1-9, and the upper octave pair of the 6th course is always dead; the one for the 5th course is clean from fret 2 upwards; and the one for the 4th course varies. I accidentally found that if I exert a tiny wee bit of extra pressure on the capo, that lone string also sounds clear. Tomorrow I’ll call the luthier, maybe he has an idea about what to do. Probably a few more fractions of a millimetre need to be filed down.

Other than that, I’m quite satisfied with their service and manners, they really make their customers feel at ease and are more than ready to help.

At the moment my Fender acoustic is with them for a little facelift - I’ll have the plastic saddle replaced with one made of bone, the white plastic bridge pins replaced with black ones made of rosewood, and the new end pin will also be black. I requested a bit of nut filing / truss rod adjustment on this too as my F barre chord, although sounding good most of the time, sometimes is a bit lacking in the B string department.

So what am I up to now?

  1. Triad shapes on strings 1-2-3 and 2-3-4 - I practice it on the 12 string with a pick and fingers as well. I’ve got a feeling that my picking of individual courses is becoming more accurate, and I can apply some of the fingerstyle patters as well, although sometimes it sounds a bit muddled. But it’s definitely coming together.

    I practice the major and minor shapes separately and try to change between them as well. There are some very pleasant-sounding changes, like a 3rd string root minor to a 2nd string root major to a 1st string root minor, or alternating between a 2nd string root minor and a 3rd string root major.

  2. The tune with the C - Am - F - G progression, a semitone lower now. It’s getting better. I would venture to say it’s easier on the 12 string, but I don’t want to believe it just yet.

  3. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, the Dylan version. I don’t sing so it’s only the chord progression. It’s not too complicated, good practice for strumming and timekeeping.

  4. All Along the Watchtower, only the chord progression again. The C# minor barre chord gets quite crowded at the 9th fret, so I’m trying to play it with a 5th string root note.

  5. I returned to the arpeggiated guitar part from Maggot Brain on the electric guitar. I slowly start to reap the benefits of practicing the A shape barre chords.

  6. Somehow I ended up at the Wikipedia article about Dies irae and I decided to play the sheet music. It’s somehow very relaxing to play, even though the melody was familiar from The Shining.

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September 11, 2021

Yesterday I picked up my 6 string acoustic from the luthier. I had the original bridge pins and end pin replaced with black ones made of rosewood, and the original plastic saddle replaced with one made of bone.

The previous strings were a set of .012-.053 Elixir Nanoweb 80/20 bronze - I put them on in early November 2020 (my 1st attempt at changing strings using Justin’s video). For this occasion, I bought a set of D’Addario EJ16 (.012-.053 phosphor bronze) just to try something different. It has a tiny bit darker hue than Elixir strings and the sliding noise is a bit louder than on the old set (or my callouses got harder after a week on the 12 string), but overall it’s very comfortable to play.

Indeed, the new parts and strings make the guitar sound different. To my ears, the most noticeable difference is in how strings 1 & 2 ring out. Also, probably due to the strings being new, all the notes sound more… sharp and defined. As I remember, the previous set that spent 10 months on the guitar sounded sort of dim by the end.

I had the nut slots filed down as well, so barre chords are much easier to play clearly. Yaaaay! :smiley: But it seems I got used to the double courses of the 12 string and now the 6 string feel strange, so time to get “reacquainted” :slight_smile:

The old parts:

And how my beauty looks now:

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September 23, 2021

Some updates:

I bought the G7th Newport capo for the 12 string. It comes in a nice box which can be snapped closed so the capo is safe inside when not in use. The tension is adjustable and I managed to set it so that each string rings out clearly. I got somewhat used to the guitar being in Eb so when I put the capo on at the 1st fret it feels a bit unusual.

Last Saturday I changed strings on my electric guitar. Note to self: leave a bit more slack on the thicker strings as well for 3 or so wraps around the tuning peg so that I don’t tighten them too much.

In the past 2 weeks I slacked a bit due to household issues and work but tonight I practiced on the 6 string acoustic and a few things actually sounded better than before. Some of the things I did today:

  • The song with the C - Am - F - G progression. Here’s a version of it:

All the versions on YouTube are either generic heavy rock or too sappy for my taste, so I think my campfire-side strumming is the real deal. The Am - F (barre) change went smoother than before.

  • Terrapin by Syd Barrett. I found an accurate tab on the Internet so I’m using that for practicing. The song has a nice languid tempo, ideal for learning. However, there’s something in the strumming pattern that makes it feel a little odd, as if Syd’s terrapin limped.

  • Love Like a Man by Ten Years After. Actually, I managed to figure out the main riff all on my own some time ago. Today I managed to play along with the original recording pretty much all the way. Of course, that does not include Alvin Lee’s solo :)

  • As the Sun Still Burns Away by Ten Years After. The riff is basically the E minor pentatonic scale, good for practicing.

  • The riff in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll by Ian Dury & the Blockheads. The recording is somewhat quick, so I had to cheat a little and double check myself against a tab. Actually, I was quite close to the solution so I’ll need to put a little more trust in my ears and be a bit more patient with myself when figuring out melodies. The riff is great fun to play but I still need to work on it at a slower tempo.

  • Major scale pattern 1. I think a bit of jamming to Justin’s backing tracks is due this weekend.

  • In between all this, I played an A - G change a few times quite slow, and I realized it’s in a song but I still can’t recall which one. ![:-

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November 15, 2021

Unfortunately, in the past 2.5 months or so life got in the way of music, so I had limited time/energy for learning. However, the Folk Fingerstyle module has become a mainstay in my practice routine. Apart from that, I try to keep pattern 1 of the major scale and a few other things up to my standards until I can move on.

Lately, I’ve felt somewhat depressed, so I’ve tried to listen to more uplifting music. “it” by Genesis (off The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) has a very catchy hook, so I thought I would try to play along. It took only about half an hour to figure out, so I’m quite happy. My ears seem to have developed, after all :slight_smile:

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November 18, 2021

Copied from here: Transcribing - Verification needed

(It turned out to be correct :slight_smile: )

Hi there,

I checked the Transcribing board and its child boards, but my request may not really fit there.

A few days ago I managed to “transcribe” the guitar riff of it (the last song off The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) by Genesis. I didn’t use paper for it, only tried to find the notes on the neck by trial and error and I succeeded. It took about half an hour.

So today I thought, “why not try another one”? There’s a song called Hairless Heart on the same album which has a majestic-sounding theme played on the synth. This one took me about an hour or so and I think I managed here, too. The swirling sound of the synth made it a bit more difficult to really pin down the notes.

Could one of you please check my transcription? I’ve got a feeling it’s correct or at least pretty close.

The tab (of course, it could be played on other strings as well):

E|---------------------------------------------------------------------10---------------
B|-----------6—8—10-------8—10----11–13-------11–13---------11------
G|—7—9------------------------------------------------------------------------10–
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The song:

The theme is played 2x2 times, 0:43-1:15 and from 1:38.

Thanks a lot!

3 Likes

Yes, that’s about it for the posts in the old forum.

Currently I’m in the middle (or towards the end, hopefully) of a bathroom renovation and a few other works, so don’t have much time to play, and the dust is also a bit uncomfortable.

But, as a prelude, my cousin helped me place my guitars in their more prominent and more permanent place:

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Jozsef

Great to read this again. I’ll like the mix of gear acquisition and your progress reports, I have to smile when I read the influence of your parents and you a 3 yr old wailing to Bloodsucker. I used to rock my daughter to sleep to “In Rock” and “Made In Japan” and brain washed with all that music from my youth. Good memories !

Cheers

Toby
:sunglasses:

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@Jozsef glad you’ve been able to migrate your RC and that you’re here with us.

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Delightful to refresh on your journey, Jozsef, you’ve made wonderful progress.

Love the picture of the instruments.

Look forward to more progress when life permits.

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Thanks for all your kind replies :slight_smile:

Great to see you on the new site József and I think you’ve given @DavidP a run for his money in the longest road case/learning log stakes!

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So the bathroom renovation has not gone down exactly as planned, i.e. it’s still not ready, but I hope to finish the remaining work this year. Which means that sometime this week I can finally return to my beloved guitars and dust them off, literally, for a start. Then I’ll have to spend a couple of days or 1 or 2 weeks by revisiting the things I’ve been working on.

As I still can’t really use my instruments, I think it’s a good opportunity to make some guitar-related plans for next year. In no particular order of importance:

  1. Strumming & rhythm: it’s about time I get my rhythm playing into shape so I don’t just try to “feel” the time but keep it as well. There are some 30 related lessons and the Rhythm Maestro course, so it should keep me occupied for some time.

  2. Folk fingerstyle: I’m so happy I started this course. I got the first 4 patterns down and I hope to develop the dexterity of my picking fingers further.

  3. Transcribing: I dabbled into it a few weeks ago after I managed to transcribe 2 Genesis riffs by flouting almost each advice by Justin on how not to do it. Oh well, I should have watched the intro video earlier.

  4. Ear training: My enemy since week 1.

  5. Continue the regular course, but that’s kind of obvious.

  6. Continue Music theory: it’s super interesting and covers a lot of ground that was omitted from my bare-bones music lessons in school.

  7. Songs, maybe (I can’t think of any song at this moment that I’d like to learn, but maybe later)

  8. Technique: I’ve recently bought these books:

The two books on the top are intended for guitar players. They look fascinating and full of valuable knowledge, even though in the second one I’ll be likely to prefer picking to strumming. The two in the bottom are intended for music schools and solfege classes. Although I neither sing nor play the piano, I think it would be cool to be able to decipher sheet music and play these things on the guitar “just like that”.

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Thank you :slight_smile: I find that writing these things down helps me make my purposes clearer to myself and give my learning some more structure.

I think you should put this one top of your list. Otherwise what’s the point of all the rest.

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Yes, that’s right. Probably the wording wasn’t the best. What I meant was that I don’t have one or two very specific songs at this time that I want to learn.

Maybe it’s a bad habit, but I tend to be more interested in “bits and pieces” of songs. For example, I got back to practicing the arpeggiated guitar part from Maggot Brain that I started last year. It’s getting better, but if I played it to someone they wouldn’t necessarily recognize the song as Maggot Brain.

I got down the chords of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door reasonably well (the strumming pattern needs some more work), but as I don’t sing, it is a sort of torso, although an entertaining one.

I really like jazz (fusion, mainly) but it’s not exactly about repeating the same chord sequence again and again. Like, Bitches Brew is one of my favourite records, but when I think about even attempting to try to play along with it, well… I still need to cover a lot of theory for that.

I don’t know if my answer makes any sense, but yes, there are plenty of songs I like, but I generally prefer tinkering on various parts, a melody or a riff, and piece them together if I can.

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Back in the days of the old forum, @Richard_close2u recommended this challenge: Guitar Challenge 0003 - Is There Anybody Out There? - Pink Floyd

In the new forum: Guitar Challenges (Songs) - Is There Anybody Out There? (Pink Floyd) - #7 by Jozsef

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Hey jozsef, I also studiedEnglish lit for an M.A. at Univ of New Mexico and then stayed in higher Ed for 34 years. Pursued a PhD but that wasn’t in the cards. Pursued a linguistics degree. That too wasn’t finished. But I’m better off for the knowledge as a teacher and a person.

I’m also way into film and film making. I grw up in the SF valley just over the hill from Hollywood. It’s in my blood!

Really enjoying the details of your musical journey.
Cheers,
Vinnoe

When I started out learning to play the guitar, I kept a kind of journal of the things I practiced. I did it for about 2 months and then gave up, the physical act of writing is just a bit too much sometimes.

However, today’s practice session is probably worth remembering. It was about 3-4 hours long, and it may better be called a free-ish practice.

I started out with the guitar challenge mentioned above. I gradually get better at it and I can play the song from memory at a relatively consistent tempo. However, it sounds nothing like the original recording, probably the tab is a simplified version, not that it’s very easy like this, either :slight_smile: The recording sounds to me as if certain parts were doubled on another guitar, as if the notes played on the 4th string had more emphasis on them. That, or I’m not skillful enough to play the piece. Anyway, I don’t mind if my version won’t be a carbon copy of the original as long as it will be listenable and easy on the ears.

After this “acoustic set” I moved on to the electric guitar and revisited the arpeggiated chord progression from Maggot Brain. If I compared these two songs in a tab, I’d say this one was the easier one. Well, as it turned out, this one is a tad more difficult, but I’m not sure why. Maybe because I play it with a pick? Who knows. After a few attempts I manage to play it through 4 or 5 times but then things start to fall apart. But I won’t give up.

Then I remembered that a long time ago one of the songs (or riffs) I worked on was Born Under a Bad Sign. It was so difficult when I was new to playing the guitar, but after a few months it became much easier. So I thought to myself, why not try to play along with the Cream version? Just like that, as if Clapton was my weekend jam buddy. I tried this about a year and a half ago, and then I found it super fast. However, now it was a comfortable tempo, and I managed to figure out a few smaller parts as well by ear.

Following the “blues trail”, I tried Sitting on Top of the World from the same album, just for fun. This time I tried to play along with the bass which is never easy in the case of Jack Bruce. At the first 2 or 3 attempts I fumbled around quite a bit but then I managed to figure out the main theme of the song and a few bass parts as well. It was real fun!

Then the Cream bug bit me and I played along with a few live recordings, Politician being one of my other very early attempts at figuring out a riff. The other one was Spoonful where the band stretched out quite a bit. Well, I don’t say I would be the best choice to sit in with musicians of this level, but I think some of the things I played fit in the overall sound. I enjoyed it, that’s for sure.

Interspersed with all this, I tinkered with a few chord changes I “found” recently, just with some random strumming patterns as I felt it. The changes are Amaj7 to C, Gmaj7 to Cmaj7, Dmaj7 to Bm, and there was an F#7 thrown in, too. It might be a maj7 overload, but these chords just sound so good, especially with a bit of reverb added. I’m not sure it’s a very song-like set of chords, but they evoke some emotions in me (at least), and I think that’s already some progress.

So yeah, today’s practice session was definitely fruitful.

P.S. Forgot to mention Equinox by John Coltrane. Hubris definitely kicked in by that time, but I think I found it to be in the key of C# minor, though I may be wrong… I could play along to about 3 notes, so I would be out of my depth if I had to play it live. But during the piano solo I managed to play a few small bits that didn’t sound bad. I will revisit this song sometime later when I know more theory for jazz.

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