József's Learning Log

Hi József, very interesting learning log. Keep on working on developing your musical skills and also having fun

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My 3rd guitarversary is only a week away, so I thought I’d post an update on the state of things.

Since the previous post, my practice routine hasn’t changed much. What is new is that I started the transcription lessons in Grade 3 and finished the first one without any hints. I added these songs to my practice routine. So far, Black Night received the most repeats, it’s pretty fun to play along with the recording. I decided to write down all the other riffs I know into tab + standard notation (at least for the key signatures and the pitches) - like my own book of riffs.

The intro to Glowin’ by Dr John has been bugging me for quite some time, so this week I sat down to get it down on paper. Well, I don’t know if I’m deaf or what, but the intervals just keep on eluding me. I always seem to get it almost right but not quite. Maybe it’s because the original is played on a tuba or something like that and the range is below that of the guitar. I really don’t know, but it’s a bit annoying.

In the past few days, I’ve been thinking about goals for the remainder of the year (or thereabouts), and I’m planning to do some technical woodshedding (mostly with a metronome, especially when I’m tired for creative stuff) and tackle some song lessons from the website which are not terribly difficult and can be accommodated to my free time after work.

Last week I bought some vinyl LPs again, including a recording by Segovia which is pretty cool:

Today I made some interesting discoveries on YouTube:

  1. Friday Fretworks by Chris Buck: I haven’t heard about him before, but his videos seem to be quite informative and entertaining. Check him out!
  2. Rob Scallon: found his channel by chance. He has some interesting and funny videos featuring less common instruments, e.g. the sitar, about which I posted earlier today.
  3. Emily Hopkins: I found her by way of Rob Scallon’s video about the harp. She’s a classically trained harpist who uses a lot of effect pedals, so it’s pretty unique. Plus her videos can make anyone laugh easily.

So that sitar video gave a bout of GAS that I managed to conquer (so far). But I got an idea and did a Google search, and found that there is a sitar course at the Indian embassy in Budapest. To be honest, it was quite unexpected. I requested some more details from them and I’ll see if I can fit it in my schedule. The lessons would be on Friday afternoons and somewhat far from home and my workplace, but I hope I can arrange this at work.


Anniversary update

I bought my first guitar 3 years ago, so I’m in a celebratory mood today.

This was a good opportunity to change the strings on all my 4 guitars (unless I count the 12 string as two). It took the better part of 6 hours including checking for any loose nuts and screws, cleaning the guitars, a good amount of messing around with trying to leave no spiky little string-end at the tuning peg, then giving up on it and do everything as usual, taking a well-deserved dinner break, and god knows what else. But I wasn’t in a hurry anyway.

A few months ago I ordered this Music Nomad work mat (the luthier I go to is quite satisfied with their products) and this was the first time I used it. It’s indeed pretty handy. The mat has a rubbery feel to it so it doesn’t slip on the surface under it and the guitars also don’t slip on the mat. It comes with the blue neck rest that can be used with various neck designs. The “rubberiness” (if such a word exists) and the texture of the mat also prevent the pieces of strings from being accidentally swept off of it. The guitar detailer was also recommended by the luthier. It is pretty good, took the dirt off the frets as well, but parts of the metal pickup covers have some other kind of stains that could not be removed. Not that I’m particularly bothered about them, but I’ll keep on doing some research if they can be removed with anything. If not, they will attest to the fact of how good and playable my guitars are. :joy:

:scream: I almost messed up twice; first with the very first string I put on the 6 string acoustic (direction of the hook over the tuning peg), and then on the Epi LP when I tightened the G string an octave higher than it should have been (fortunately, it was easy to correct as the last two strings were not on yet). Overall, I consider this undertaking a resounding success, although next time I won’t do all 4 of them in one go.

:bulb: It was a good opportunity to test a new strategy where I don’t go from the thickest to the thinnest string but from the “outside” towards the “inside” (i.e. E, A, D, E, B, G). This way the positioning of my index finger that holds the string down for the windings is much more comfortable. Even on the 12 string. :slight_smile:

:bulb::bulb: I found that if I tighten the new string just taut enough so as not to rattle against the fretboard, it’s roughly 1-1.5 octave lower than the target tone. This is a good opportunity to cut the slack off so that it doesn’t interfere with the turning of the tuning pegs anymore, and to clip the tuner on and check for the pitch while tightening the string. Also, when you’re done with a guitar, that one can be used as a reference for the pitches.

:bulb::bulb: :bulb: It seems that different strings (even within the same set) require different amounts of stretching-in; some of them were pretty stable right from the first tuning whereas others needed 4 or 5 rounds to stabilize. This was the first time I changed strings on my Epi Casino; I was curious how the trapeze tailpiece worked and it turned out to have a clever design, hardly more complicated to work with than with the Tune-o-matic bridge.

I took a few photos during the operation:

So what have I been up to during the past year? I can’t say I remember each and every little detail (and I’m just too lazy to re-read my previous posts tonight), so I can only mention the most important things.

:writing_hand: The biggest new thing for me seems to be transcription. I think that my “musical hearing” improved quite a bit and I’m less afraid to tackle melodies that sound more difficult than the level I’m currently at. I’m super proud of having been able to transcribe a whole trumpet solo (by Chet Baker, you can find my post about it) and of course various other shorter melodies. I hope I’ll get to a level where I can play something by my main man Miles.

:notes: I started to play along with original recordings which is a good way to test and improve my transcription skills. My go-to “single-note” jam in the past 2-3 months has been Ike’s Rap III/Your Love Is So Doggone Good by Isaac Hayes. As the original has a very subdued guitar part, my “contribution” (including some improv) is quite easy to tell apart. I’m planning to make a sort of playalong recording this year. Another favourite single-note jam of mine is Born Under a Bad Sign by Cream that can serve the dual purpose of practicing pattern 1 of the minor pentatonic scale. Black Night by Deep Purple is the latest addition, though I still need to conscientiously decipher the little variation on the riff that is played during the transitions to the chorus and between the guitar and organ solo. My staple “strumming jam” is a long version of Jammin’ by Bob Marley (a fitting title that is). It sounds pretty good on the 12 string as well.

What about the future?

I have a few things on my mind, in no particular order:

  • Do some proper song lessons from the website for the sake of some structured learning if nothing else.
  • Revisit fingerstyle playing as it got sidelined by other things I’ve been doing.
  • Explore the possibilities of DADGAD tuning as the drone effect is quite nice.
  • Continue transcribing
  • Continue the Practical Music Theory course (+ @Richard_close2u’s extracurricular tips here in the Community)
  • Find some opportunities to jam with others, though it’s not something I can’t live without. And I’m not hell-bent on doubling as my roadie on public transport, either.
  • Recently I became interested in the sitar. I found out that there’s a regular course at the cultural centre of the Indian embassy in Budapest and that the next beginner course starts in October. The fee will be c. 12 USD/EUR for 3 months with a lesson every week. I figured it’s a good opportunity to try it out without any long-term commitment and see what happens. I mentioned this plan to a few of my friends and I saw some bewilderment on their faces.
  • Make use of the classical sheet music I collected so far.
  • GAS: as the rate of inflation isn’t likely to decrease, I don’t think I’ll buy any new instruments for quite some time. What I have on my shopping list, though, are a tuner pedal, a volume pedal for swells, and maybe a hum eliminator though I still have to do some research on it. Fortunately, I’m not a gear nerd so equipment is something I can cut costs on.

Well, that’s about it now.


I don’t have much to say because your much farther ahead than me but sitar lessons in Budapest sounds like a great way to have some good lifetime memories! :smiley:

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Yeah, I’ve never taken a selfie but one of me with a sitar in hand will have to be done or it didn’t happen :smiley:


Good string choices. For a long time, I was using Martin SP Extra-Lights on my 12-string, but after some experimenting, I’ve found Martins to be a bit stiff. But then again, I don’t tune down. The D’Addario Nickel Bronze have been on my 6-string since March. They’re resonant without being too bright, and are excellent for fingerstyle. I’ve tried Rotosound on my 6-string and loved them.

Sitar lessons sound like a bargain, and because your hands are already strengthened by playing guitar, you should sound pretty good on sitar after a few lessons. Go for it!

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Another month passed, but I got into a sort-of “development hell”. I had barely any time or mental strength to practice anything and I’m getting a bit upset about it, really. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but my daily job drains my energy so much I can hardly believe it.

So I did some reactive listening, as Justin calls it, to have some sort of musical alibi. Some of the things I (re)discovered are, in no particular order:

Julian Bream - the man was a genius and his recordings are probably my biggest discoveries this year. Whenever I listen to his interpretations of renaissance lute music, baroque or South American guitar music or then-contemporary pieces, I get a sense of comfort and reassurance that things will turn to the better, eventually (my current state of limbo included).
Steely Dan - the trio of The Royal Scam, Aja and Gaucho have been on heavy rotation the past week or so. Lots of fine details in their music + a healthy dose of irony to boot.
Minimalism - I’ve made only a few baby steps so far in this field, but there are some pretty entertaining stuff here. Einstein on the Beach is often positively groovy, and Piano Phase is soothing.

Also, I have been expanding my vinyl collection over the past months. This is the current list.


Some times work can become very draining and you just can’t muster the energy to do anything and just want to collapse in the sofa. What a perfect way to really zone out by immersing yourself in music, just sitting there listening deeply to it, rather than a background noise whilst doing other daily things.

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Jozsef, I missed your earlier anniversary updates. Your dedication and discipline are an inspiration, you have the knack for sharing your progress and thoughts, and loved all the pictures.

Congratulations and look forward to what you share next, here or in AVOYP.

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Hi Jozsef,
That sounds like a bit of a nasty period for you with your job and the wider impact it is causing, do please look after yourself and your health (physical and mental!). If it is causing upset to you and meaning you can’t do what you really love then finding a way to take a step back and get back to “normality” must be priority 1. I do get that it’s never as simple as that but hope you can do.

Reactive listening is great and awesome to read your rediscoveries, a lot of those I am not familiar with so thank you for pointing out some new names for me to check out!

All the best to you, good luck and try to keep smiling :slight_smile:

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Hi Jozsef,
Get out of hell and step into the light…at least in your mind if the cause is your work (and outside cause work too but that will be much more difficult)…be careful, a little while is fine, but a long period of time can damage you…good luck,


Hi József, hopefully you can find a way to meet work demands without exhausting yourself. Analyse if your workload has actually increased in any aspect or is that your ability to deal with it is what has decreased. Centering in what you can do (like listening music as you are doing) instead of what you cannot do is a positive approach to regain self-confidence.


Wow, thank you so much for the kind words and all your advice. I took your words and tonight I made an effort to play and 3 hours flew by quite quickly.

I added some new songs to my play-along list:

Cowgirl in the Sand - especially for the rhythm part. I was really proud of myself for having found out there are mainly Am-F changes, now I just need to get the chorus right (there are C and G and something else).
Sing a Simple Song - I gave it the first try about 2 weeks ago and haven’t touched it since. But tonight I played it over about a dozen times and now I’m more and more confident with playing along with the original recording at the original tempo. Why haven’t I been more persistent with practicing in the past few weeks? Also, find a supercharged version here.
Third World Man - this has a slow bluesy feel to it so good for practicing the pentatonic patterns. In the past few months I found that I’m getting quicker at roughly locating the region where a melody is played, and that’s definitely something I’d like to work on.


Well done @Jozsef , superb to read and I’m really happy for you. Now same again tomorrow please :wink:


Done :smiley:

I got the chord progression of Danger Bird down, thought at first I got two of them wrong (I blame it on the distortion on the original). I tried it on my 12 string and it sounded really good on that one too. Then I did some noodling and I think I stumbled on the intro to The Byrds’ version of Mr Tambourine Man :open_mouth:

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It’s about time to make another post and also to make a sort-of inventory of this year’s achievements.

In the previous 4 months, I used my electric guitars in about 90% of my playing time as I got more interested in transcribing various melodies and chord progressions, and I find it’s easier on an electric than on an acoustic (the original recordings also feature electric guitars). I think I’m getting better at recognizing the various intervals in context and figuring out (or at least making an educated guess at) faster passages as well.

The most recent additions to my transcriptions-in-progress and play-along list of songs are (YouTube links included):

Deep Purple - Mistreated: I’ve known this song since I was a kid as one of my dad’s cassettes was Burn. I chose this song in order to utilize the pentatonic scale and also because I managed to stumble on the first 3 notes by chance. Of course, the solo at the end is pretty difficult, but sometimes my playing sounds kind of like a complement to the original part.

Isaac Hayes - Do Your Thing: 33 minutes of pure funk and wah-wah jamming. When I play along, it’s usually with the horn figures and the wah-wah guitar solo, either individually or switching between the two. Playing along to it feels like being in Stax studios, pretty cool. This also gives me opportunity to experiment with the wah-wah pedal itself and how the place where the strings are picked affects the tone.

Isaac Hayes - Pursuit of the Pimpmobile: You may have guessed by now that I’m a sucker for long funk jams, and Hayes was a master in that field. This song sounded deceptively simple to me so I gave it a try, and was I surprised. The main riff is quite tricky and it took a few days until I figured out how to approach it with using hammer-ons and flick-offs instead of only down/upstrokes for each note. It’s coming along nice, but it’ll definitely take some time to get really flowing. The other riff (starting at 7:21 and prefigured by the hi-hat) sounds even simpler but it’s even trickier. This song will probably be my go-to choice for practicing hammer-ons and flick-offs for quite some time.

Isaac Hayes - Ike’s Rap I & Ike’s Mood / You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’: Both are from his album To Be Continued. The first one features a simple riff starting around 2:30 and it has a kind of serious mood that gives a nice contrast to the piano in the first half of the song. The second is another long one, plenty of things going on so that there’s always something to be discovered. One of my greatest feelings of success was when I managed to find out the motif first played at 0:32 and repeated again from 9:09, and to play it at the original tempo. The melody played by the oboe from 2:09 (taken up by the flute and strings afterwards) sounds so cinematic that it’s difficult not to be affected by it; and it’s another opportunity to practice hammer-ons. So yes, this song is full of little pieces of “food for ears”.

Idris Muhammad - Power of Soul: This is a jazzed/funked-up cover of the Hendrix original. I managed to transcribe the main riff (played by the horns) and I was thrilled to find out that it can be “tied together” with the riff from Ike’s Rap I (see above) as they have the same notes. Btw, Muhammad (under his real name Leo Morris) was the drummer on Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino.

Ten Years After - As the Sun Still Burns Away: I actually managed to get this one down around my 1st guitar anniversary, but was not on my regular playlist. It’s pretty handy to practice the (E) minor pentatonic scale at various positions. Pretty fun to play along with the original.

The Doors - L’America: L.A. Woman was probably the first cassette I bought for myself a long long time ago. This song is not very difficult but the small variations on the main riff can be tricky.

The Doors - Riders on the Storm: I know Justin has a lesson on this song but I wanted to give it a try alone at first. It felt so good when I managed to transcribe the main motif appearing around 1:10. Sometime next year I’ll try to do the guitar solo. The electric piano solo is also tempting but I’ve got a feeling that I should get familiar with modes beforehand. The final descending part of that solo (from 4:27) is also something to be looked at.

Some other things:

My sitar journey stopped after 5 lessons. I realized how true Justin’s saying that “practice makes permanent” is. At the sitar course, everyone else seemed to have been participating for years or so, so they weren’t total beginners like me. This in itself wouldn’t have been a problem, but I really missed that the basics were not covered. I’ve been probably spoiled by Justin’s sort of spoonfed style, but I would have expected something similar, at least for the picking technique. Also, most things were played at a fast tempo right away which just made me confused. Like, if I went to a piano teacher, I wouldn’t expect him/her to start with some rhapsodies by Liszt at full speed right away.

Also, I didn’t always know what we were playing and why. I mean, I know we played a thing called Bihag raga, but whether we played the beginning, middle or the ending, I haven’t got the slightest cue. And I realized I’m just not interested in the intricacies of Indian music - it’s not something I regularly listen to, in any case, and I’ll never be an Indian musician anyway. I still think the sitar is an interesting instrument and I’m glad I gave it a try. One item less on my bucket list.


My vinyl collection has recently passed 50 titles and I started to buy used ones as well.


GAS: I’ve been thinking about getting another electric guitar, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. I don’t know if I should continue saving some money for a decent 12-string (Gretsch and Rickenbacker models look gorgeous) or go for a Player Stratocaster or a Player Telecaster. Both of the latter seem to have their particular advantages. (Telecasters by default look great in my eyes no matter what colour, and the Player Plus Strat in tequila sunrise is just pure eye candy.) Next year I’ll try to visit the guitar stores I know and try as many guitars as I can before making any decisions.


Nice update. I also think that Tequila Sunrise Strat looks insanely good. The challenge if you go and test one is resisting buying it on the spot!

Sorry to hear the sitar lessons didn’t work out for you. Not even being taught the basics is no way to learn any instrument, especially not one so complex & specialized. At least you know it’s not for you, so now you can concentrate all your energy on guitar. It’s a much more versatile instrument.

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That’s right. Funnily enough, somehow my motivation to focus on the guitar got reinforced in the meantime.


For a few days I’ve been thinking about how to get back into a more regular schedule of studying, so tonight I decided to start G2/M13 and dip into 12 bar blues and see what happens. I’ve already known the dominant 7th grips but the rest is new. I have some vague plans of recording a backing track for myself to solo over it for learning purposes, but I don’t want to rush anything.

“It’s a GAS GAS GAS,” as Mick Jagger put it in JJ Flash. When you watch demo videos of guitars, you expect to be convinced to choose one or the other, right? Well, these videos made it just that more difficult to choose between these two beauties:

And to make matters even worse:

I think the following weeks/months will see some serious scratchings of me head. :face_with_head_bandage: :exploding_head: :cold_sweat: :scream: :money_with_wings: :money_with_wings: :money_with_wings: