József's Learning Log

Yes, I write down the notes I work out. As I don’t have perfect pitch, there’s a fair amount of trial and error in it, but seeing the notes in writing and on the fingerboard also helps me spot some errors I make. These are my transcriptions of the Baker solo:

However, I’m not yet on a level to be able to add tempo markings to the standard notation, so at this stage it really only shows the notes to be played.


Thanks Maggie for the kind words :slight_smile: I made a sort of resolution early this year that I’ll try to spend more time with music and practicing, and so far it seems to pay off.

I bought my slides more than a year ago but never really used them for anything else than to fool around. Who knows, maybe I just needed to hit the right notes yesterday to change my mind about them. Like, I “discovered” that if I play the 1st and 3rd string simultaneously with a slide while muting the 2nd string, it sounds just like a pedal steel guitar :open_mouth:


Oh nice! So I should start to write down some of the melodies I’m getting by ear.


Today this lesson came up on Justin’s Facebook page: Space Oddity by David Bowie | JustinGuitar.com

So I decided to give it a try on my 12 string. Holy moly! My hands got a real workout and the strumming pattern is also more complex than I’m used to. This song will sure last me a couple of weeks to play at a reasonable level.


Quite a few things happened in the past 2 weeks guitar-wise although I didn’t have much time to practice during the week. Fortunately, I don’t feel it hinders me very much as I can catch up with myself relatively easily.

The previous weekend I made the rounds in a few bookstores here in Budapest, and one of my destinations was a musical book/record store also keeping used things. I got home with this stash:

Most of these are sheet music for pieces written for the guitar (classical, obviously). However, the two exercise books (in the upper right corner) & the 333 reading studies are going to be my main friends for the time being. Actually, after 2.5 years of Justin’s course, there are quite a few things in the exercise books that I already know :slight_smile:

Last night I tried to “decode” the first piece in Short Studies for Guitar I as it’s indicated to be beginner level. Well, the less is said about my attempt the better, but I’ll keep at it.

Yesterday I was among the audience of the Open Mic 007 and it was great fun, so I got the song practice bug and volunteered to participate in the next event. Well, thinking about it, I’m already struck by a bit of stage fright but I’ll focus on 2-3 songs that are not out of my league and probably try to work on my “vocals” as well. Never really tried to play and “sing” at the same time.

For the past week or so I got immersed in lute music. I don’t really know what inspired me to try it but it was a great decision. I’ve listened to quite a few pieces of John Dowland and a Hungarian composer called Valentin Bakfark, recorded by Julian Bream, Nigel North and a Hungarian player/researcher-turned-into-a-celebrity-fool-in-the-21st-century called Dániel Benkő. This music is super soothing but also filled with so many details that would be cool to reproduce on the guitar, like those typical Renaissance rhythmic figures.

The recordings I listened to most are the following, in case anyone’s interested (they’re available on streaming platforms):

Lute Music, Vol. 1 (North) - Fancyes, Dreams and Spirits
Lute Music, Vol. 2 (North) - Dowland’s Tears
Lute Music, Vol. 3 (North) - Pavans, Galliards and Almains
Lute Music, Vol. 4 (North) - The Queen’s Galliard

Dances of Dowland
The Golden Age of English Lute Music

Bálint Bakfark: The Complete Lute Music (6 parts)

And I’ve recently found out about these 2 instruments, they are quite interesting: Wired for sound: the bandora and orpharion


Curious what of these things you will bring for us :smiley: Something else is perfectly fine too though

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No renaissance lute music or classical stuff, that’s for sure :smiley: At least not right now. So it will be something completely different.



Great stash of material to fuel continued learning, Jozsef. YOur shares are always interesting and well played.

Will be great to have you at the Open Mic. Keep in mind anything musical is just fine. You don’t have to perform a play and sing song. Clint played lead over a backing, you could perform that instrumental Pink Floyd song, or any of your classical studies.

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Yesterday I changed the strings on my electric guitar - so far so good. Then I had the brilliant idea to tinker with the action height. I thought I would lower it just a little bit, i.e. 1/64 of an inch on the bass and treble side alike. I’ve got a D’Addario action gauge that I used for this task.

Lowering done, tuned the strings again, then played each string at each fret to hear if there were any issues. And there was string buzz at fret 8 on string 1. Nowhere else! :exploding_head:

Of course, I set the action back to factory specs according to the booklet that came with the guitar, but it didn’t help. Then I raised and lowered the action a few times without any effect on this problem (fortunately, no other notes started to buzz), so I went back to factory specs again. I found that if I fret the string at that given place and dampen the part of the string behind my fretting finger, the buzzing stops altogether. Also, if I bend that note a tiny bit, it “clears up”. :thinking:

So it seems either I messed up something that affects one and only one fret under a lone string, or my adjustment fiasco uncovered some issues with that particular fret. Strange, as nothing has been out of the ordinary since I bought this guitar in 2019.

Today I’ll give it another try but I don’t have high hopes. It seems I’ll have to take it to the luthier to sort it out.

Hey Jozsef,

Buzzing is an annoying issue. Had it once and it drove me mad. Checking everything endlessly, measuring, adjusting, re-measuring, swearing etc.

You’ve probably done it, and a long shot maybe, but have you checked the tuners to make sure they’re nice and secure. Others here with alot more experience will surely be along soon to give some advice.



Hi Shane,

Thanks for your reply. Actually, before putting the new strings on, my first move was to tighten the nuts on the headstock and around the output jack.

I’ll tinker a little bit with it today and see what happens.


That bit of string buzz didn’t stop me from a bit of freeform “jamming” tonight, especially with headphones on :joy: The results of the past week or so:

– Song practice for OM8 - singing is not so sure. In fact, I might not be loud enough as I can barely hear my voice over the guitar (acoustic). Got to be braver.
– Got the chord progression of Bob Marley’s Jammin’ down (though primarily on my 12 string)
– Jammed to some Black Sabbath songs :v: My power chord technique still needs some refinement, but I managed to figure out the chords/licks of the following songs by ear:

  • The Wizard
  • Iron Man
  • Sweet Leaf
  • Snowblind - this one is loads of fun :nose:
  • Under the Sun - I managed to get the riff-melody played in the outro after 2 or 3 attempts

But my electric guitar will have to go to the luthier this week. :crossed_fingers:

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It’s been more than a month since the last update but it feels much less… let’s see what happened since.

30 April, 2022: I bought my coveted Epiphone Casino. I had it set up last week for free; I was going to buy an EC Coupe, as it turned out, from the store by the luthier, but it had some aesthetic issues, so it came to the “real” Casino from another dealer but the free setup that would have been part of the deal remained. It was quite interesting to see a professional do it and the mechanism of the tailpiece isn’t a mystery to me anymore, either.

So I’ve had a few new guitar weeks already. I really like it so far, and despite its size it’s quite comfortable to play.

On 30 May it will be my Epiphone LP’s turn at the luthier for a check-up.

In the past month I managed to decipher the bassline of Herbie Hancock’s “Ostinato (Suite for Angela)”. It’s not as difficult as it seemed at first, though I started out a semitone higher than the original, for some reason. It’s a pity I can’t make my guitar sound as sneaky and furtive as the bass clarinet, though.

When I was a teen I used to listen to King Crimson somewhat regularly, but later on I kind of forgot about them save for their debut. Last week I rediscovered their 1972-74 period (call it nostalgia) and managed to sort of jam along to the main riff of “The Night Watch” and “Starless”. The middle section in the latter is something I want to explore further. I also managed to pin down those weepy string Mellotron chords based on G and A# but I’m not yet sure if they are minor or extended chords. In the near future I’ll tackle the bassline as well.

And this week during a practice session I got the idea of trying to play the riff of “Stay” by David Bowie. Granted, it’s still quite choppy and less than funky under my fingers, but at least I found the notes quite easily. Not a bad start, I think.

Today I did the Grade 4 music theory exam and made only 1 mistake on the 1st attempt, so I’m pretty satisfied with my theoretical progress. I’ll stop and consolidate for a bit, and then continue with Grade 5.

Lately, I’ve had to work quite a lot and haven’t felt very good so I didn’t have a lot of time for practicing or playing. For almost a month, the tiny muscles around my eyes which cannot be moved voluntarily kind of cramp or vibrate. It’s not painful but quite annoying after a time. Tomorrow I’ll have an MRI scan done on me which I think is more of a safety measure on the doctor’s part, so I hope nothing will be out of the ordinary and that the whole things is “just” a symptom of stress and tiredness.

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Discovery of the day: the angle between my electric guitar with the P90 (single coil) pickups and the amplifier determines the degree of hum, and if there’s a 45° angle between them, the hum almost completely disappears. :open_mouth: :relieved: :v:

I looked up this topic on the internet and it definitely seems to be a thing. I learn something new every day. :slight_smile:

Also, the MRI scan this week showed nothing wrong in my head, so those muscle twitches are likely to be caused by stress. One more reason to somehow increase my guitar time…


Great news Jozsef, especially on the health front. Must be a great relief, as my wife experienced a similar situation just last week. Very stressful, but a good outcome.
All the best.

Cheers, Shane.

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Thanks for the kind words, Shane. Honestly, I wasn’t very worried about the outcome but I’m still relieved.

This was my first time in an MRI scanner. From an audio aspect, it was almost a musical experience, sometimes with Kraftwerk-ish vibes :slight_smile:

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Update time is here again :slight_smile:

Luckily, the Epiphone Casino became firmly attached to my guitar family, so much so that in the past 3 months it was the one I played the most. Not that I don’t like the other 3, but this one being a hollow-body electric, it is the best of both worlds (acoustic/electric).

As my 3rd guitar anniversary is approaching, I thought of making a note of some thoughts on my progress, learning habits, and other bits and pieces of whatever that crosses my mind tonight.

Just one more thing: as a means of sharing a bit more trivia about myself, I added 2 links to my “practice playlists” on my profile page:

Songs I have practiced or played along to at one time or another:

Apple Music

The AM link has a bonus Neil Young song on it :grin: This post is a bit long-winded, so why don’t you play a few tracks from them in the background?

1. The past year of my guitar journey in general

Honestly, since this Covid madness has been around, my ability to keep accurate time for periods longer than a few weeks diminished somewhat. :unamused: Apart from a few events, the last 18 months since my mother’s death is largely a blur.

The most important change in my “guitar studies” is that I more or less broke loose from Justin’s beginner course somewhere during Grade 2. What I want to say is that I still use the lessons/courses on the website, but I think I reached a level where I’m able to cherry-pick the topics I’m interested in or consider useful for the things I’m focusing on at the moment. Also, there’s the freedom of revisiting certain topics whenever I need it.

However, I’m still diligently following the music theory course which, as I have probably mentioned earlier, is one of the greatest discoveries of the past few years for me. Currently, I’m in Grade 5. Since I’ve started to use the various types of 7th chords, I’ve felt my grasp of the fretboard opened up in ways I didn’t really expect when I started out. I really regret not having more time to devote to it as I have a 9-to-5 job which is sometimes spiced with overtime. But that pays for this hobby, so I shouldn’t complain.

In the name of being honest to myself, I must admit I have a tendency to turn into a lazy b*****d playing-wise from time to time, mainly when I have a lot of work and just lack the mental energy to pick up the guitar and do something meaningful with it. I mean, this activity deserves more than strumming randomly and looking in front of me like a brain-dead zombie on a Wednesday evening after work. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen too often.

So my current learning path may be a bit less structured than it ought to be, but this way I have sufficient room to accommodate the topics I’m interested in at a given time.

A few random thoughts related to learning/skills development:

  • OMC: while useful early on, I’ve never been very keen on tallying how many of whatever I can do in a minute. Sure, it’s a nice frame of reference and gives a quantified account of one’s technical development, but the more “experienced” (what an overstatement) I become, the more I feel the need to be at leisure with what I do. I mean, I want to have fun in the first place when playing, and if it means I’ll take 2 days longer to master a chord change, so be it.
  • BPM: I couldn’t care less about it. Of course, a metronome is indispensable, but I’ve never got a kick out of the “let’s play it 10 BPM faster than before” approach. When I practice a scale or a chord change, I try to settle on a tempo I’m comfortable with and try to keep it steady. If I practice it correctly often enough, I’ll pick up speed anyway.
    Even though I like a fair bit of uptempo music, shredding gets on my nerves quickly (I’m looking at you, Mr McLaughlin, even though you’re obviously a gifted player but you were so much better as a sideman to Miles than as a bandleader playing 1000 notes a minute, sometimes in unison with an electric violin to boot), so I can’t relate to the “I can already play this scale at 200 BPM up and down” mindset. Strange, I recorded myself playing a few rounds of the major scale pattern 1 at a not so fast tempo and it was c. 200 BPM. But it was never my intention to get to x BPM and increase it by y% every day.
  • A-shape barre chords: I tried them for the first time about a year ago, and I sort of have them under my belt. I can use them with much less “planning” than in the beginning.
  • Permanent education: I purchased some classical guitar sheet music and a few others intended for drummers (for my rhythm playing). An item on my bucket list is to make good use of them.
  • Ear training: I find it easier to get intervals right when I hear them “in context”, as parts of a melody. Recognizing them in isolation is definitely not for me.
  • Singing: not really.

2. What I have been up to since my previous post

After OM9, we had a really interesting discussion about the songs app, and the others were interested in what I thought of the recent issues with the song selection. Actually, I’ve never used the app before, and I’m not planning to. I may be old-school, but using the website on my laptop is much more comfortable for me. The screen is bigger so it’s less tiring to look at it than at a small phone display. Also, as others agreed, the course material on the website has a lot of extra content, like the written descriptions under the videos. It was not only my feeling that a fair number of our fellow students asking for advice on the forum do not seem to even know about the existence of the website. This is both surprising and very sad. I won’t even mention the books. Also, you won’t always have someone to show you a board with the next chord written on it.

Referring back to the playlists, what I usually do “fur fun” (i.e. when I don’t do course-related practice) is to play along to real recordings. Or at least trying to. Actually, there are some I can play along to pretty much all the way through (e.g. Born Under a Bad Sign, Wiggle Waggle, Summer Sketch, Jammin’, I Want You (She’s So Heavy), No Sympathy, Naphoz Holddal, Your Love Is So Doggone Good), while others are more of a long-term goal.

Some of the new items/achievements:

  • Eleanor Rigby vocal melody transcription. I got the idea about a month ago and while I needed a little time to get into it, I got it together surprisingly quickly. I’ll try to post a recording of my “rendition” in the near future (a good opportunity to whip the Casino out). Bucket list version: being able to transcribe the strings parts as well and overdub them. Yeah, wishful thinking.
  • Lead guitar line for I Want You (She’s So Heavy). This is so much fun to play, though I have yet to figure out how to tone down the open D string in the Dm arpeggios somewhat. Maybe Macca played the root note on the bass and the guitars did the Dm triad only? Who knows.
  • Well Well Well. Oh well. The mixing on the recording is a bit weird as the notes don’t have much sustain (and it was either double tracked or a bit of delay was added to it). But it’s pretty groovy anyway. This one also largely follows the vocal line. Found out totally by chance that F# and A power chords fit it pretty well. My ears may be developing, after all.
  • Medley: Ike’s Rap III / Your Love Is So Doggone Good. The piano motif in the first half has bugged me for quite some time. I always missed a semitone here and there, but about 2 weeks ago it fell into place. I managed to solo over the second half using the horn ostinato as the starting point. With the wah pedal it’s even more dramatic. I’ll try to make a recording sometime and make sure that my part can be told apart from the original.

3. The good old GAS attack

Well, not an attack, really, given the current rate of inflation in Hungary, but I’ve been thinking. Thinking about 2 things, actually.

  • EBow. I think it would be a cool addition to my guitar tools. I’m not much of a pedal/effects person but this one seems interesting.
  • Electric 12-string. Yeah, practically no chance in the near future given the financial prospects of the country are a tad less than rosy.
    The Fender XII is practically “out of print” and the prices of used ones (even without the shipping cost) give me an instant heart attack.
    Rickenbacker has several models available (even hollow-bodies), but even the new ones are hopelessly expensive. I mean, I have that amount of money and it would be a lifelong investment, but still. Used ones even more so.
    The Gretsch G5422G-12 Electromatic looks very stylish and is about 2/3 cheaper than a Rick, but still a bit over my budget.
    Danelectro has the 59X12 and the Vintage 12 String but I haven’t researched them very much yet.

So yeah, maybe I’ll celebrate my 5th guitar anniversary with an electric 12 string, unless something happens until then.

Well, this is probably enough for today. Sorry for writing so much, and thanks if you’ve read it.

Cheers :slight_smile:


What a fabulous update, Jozsef. I look forward to hearing more of your recordings when you get time.

Many points you shared resonate with me. I’ll keep my reply short by not re-quoting a bunch, just pick two …

Your observation about the use of the website and the app is important. How to position the app as a support tool rather than the primary learning resource is something to think about … @larynejg, something for us to discuss when Justin is back from holidays.

I too experience the ups and downs in energy and also become ‘lazy’ at times. In fact compared to some of what you are busy with, I feel even more lacking in dedication to developing my guitar skills, spending too much time just learning songs and having fun. I think it’s OK.

Now, recordings of you playing the Casino, yes please!


Thanks @DavidP :slight_smile:

I’ll try to get to the recordings eventually.

As for the app, I wonder how many references to the website there are. Maybe it could be highlighted somewhere in the app description that it’s not the full “Justinguitar experience” but only a fraction of it.

Yeah, there’s no such thing as spending too much time having fun nowadays.

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@Jozsef What a read! Very inspirational journey so far and thanks a lot for introducing me to some new great bands in the proces!

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