Mac's learning log

Hi !
I’m Mac , a woman , 41 french and disabled ( clusterheadaches and consequences of a head trauma )

Since i m afraid of losing motivation in my guitar journey , I’ll use this space as a diary !
It will not be fascinating to read but it will help me to play and exercise as often as I can

My goals : Playing at least 4 days a week, 20 to 30 minutes each day, for more than 6 months

I started playing guitar one year ago on a app called Yousician but when i became overwhelmed with work around june I stopped playing,.
So this time I ll try to stick to my training schedule for a year

I own a Squier Affinity Strat FM10G BS

and a Epiphone Acoustic electric AJ 220SCE

My amp is a little fender frontman , its good enough for a beginner

Day 1 :

I started the beginner grade 1 on the justin app and finished it
Since i already played before i already knew most of the stuff but i wanted to start from scratch
Nevertheless i will work the grade 1 songs again !
The lessons are awesome BUT I’ve been disappointed with the way the app works
The songs start way too quickly !
you don t have enought time to get in position again especially for a beginner …
So you panic , miss the firsts notes , and fail the follow the rythm at the beginning of the song
It would be great to add some more time before the song starts just enough to get into position to play
The other disappointing thing is : the app does not hear the sound correctly … you spend more time trying to make the damn thing hear the sound than doing the exercise correctly

So after the first day , i feel like the app is a great addition to help learning ( changing the tempo , having no one singing on the tune etc ) but i really need it to hear the sound when i play
Its impossible to do the perfect chord exercise if it does not hear the chord


That’s a good first goal. Enjoy your new journey :slight_smile:

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Day 2 :
Did the daily routine for 10 minutes
Changing from A chord to D and than D to A
Looks like my G string is the only one not recognized by the app
it is tuned and the sound is clear though

Since i know my A and D chord and i can do 40 changes a minute I moved to Grade 2 on the app

I played a song on yousician for 16 minutes
Since I haven t played for 6 months i feel rusty and needs some actual practice

Hello again Mac

This space is whatever you want it to be but a good place to keep track of progress and keep you honest on committing to playing. That Affinity will serve you well and will the Epi, I started with one in '96 but back then there was no Justin, so I wandered aimlessly for decades. So you start in a good place.

Just added a reminder in my calendar, so I will check back on you in July.

Bonne Chance.


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ooooh the pressure :smiley:


Day 3 :
Spent my day trying to understand how to record myself .
After a few hours, I finally found how to record my guitar on reaper but not how to insert the back track … It’s better than nothing !

so here is my training on : The bottle let me down by Merle Haggard / Grade 1

Mac O'neill · The bottle let me down training

Congrats on your first recording Mac. If the backing track is a digital file, in Reaper just click on the Insert “button” on the menu bar and choose Media, then select the file of the backing track. Reaper will automatically open a new track containing the BT. Hope that helps. Some nice tidy strumming and clean chords by the way. :+1:

hey thanks !
No i don t have the back track i was playing along with the Justin App

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I’m not sure if it would be possible to transfer the Apps audio into Reaper, unless you used the phone or tablet audio as an auxiliary input source to an audio interface connected to your computer. As a non app user, I’m only guessing but someone in the Community may have a solution for you. :sunglasses:

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I use the app on the app store directly on the computer ( its one of the bonus of the Mac mini M1 )
but i can also use it on my tablet if need be .
At worst , you ll just have to listen to the very boring strumming of a grade 1 student XD

Welcome Mac,
Enjoy the ride, stick close to Justin’s lessons, and reach out here any time.

Good that you have a specific goal. As with any goal, the more specific, the more achievable I reckon.
Never used the ‘app’, but plenty here do, so you’ll get lots of good advice I’m sure.
All the best.

Cheers, Shane

I have the app and actually became curious how this song appears on it. Seems it’s one of those cases, where they don’t even offer a backing track and the recommended strumming pattern is given in 16th if I remember correctly…

When checking the song anyways I put on your recording at the same time and I have to say: Really well done :blush:
You got those those strums almost all exactly on beat one as indicated by the app and played along to the original speed :blush:

There are songs with only A and D on the app that might be more fun to try than the one you chose, since they have various backing tracks. Don’t remember which, but I might check back later today if I have time.

Btw: Have you been drawing your profile pic yourself? It’s super cute :blush:

Chords and strums sound good, Deborah.

Well done on figuring out how to record into Reaper.

I notice there is an obvious buzz in the recording. I don’t want to overwhelm you with questions and suggestions. OK to not fuss about that for now and when you feel more comfortable with recording we can dig into that. Ultimately you’d want to eliminate it but the how of that depends on how you are recording. If/when you want to clean it up please say so and share how you are making the recording from guitar to Reaper.

As @TheMadman_tobyjenner says, it is easy to add backing tracks that are in an audio format as well as some video formats. You can simply drag and drop a file from your File Explorer onto the Reaper Track Control Panel view. Reaper will create the track automatically. Though I see you are an Apple User, so I have no idea if it has a File Explorer.

So what you need is a recording of the backing that is played live in the app. As I sit here, I’m not sure if you could route the audio from the app into Reaper to record a play through that way.

I’m also not sure if that is strictly speaking permitted from a copyright/fair usage perspective. I think it would be OK but I am no expert. @Richard_close2u, Richard what do you think?

Again, without wanting to overwhelm you, another option would be to make your recording using OBS. OBS is a video recording app many of us use. You would be able to set it up to record the guitar as you are doing in Reaper and include the audio from the app as it plays in the app store. We could dig more into this if you fancy.

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Day 4 :
Back to work, the holidays are over :frowning:
it means also that my right arm will start to ache a lot more which is … not good for playing the guitar
I did my 10 minutes training on A D and E chords in the morning and watched the last lessons of module 2 in the evening
Then I trained by playing Lay down saly and Nobody to blame
Needs more training before recording theses ones because I didnt learn to place my fingers on the A chord like Justin teaches it … I need to train my body to get used to this new placement of the fingers

To answer the questions : @JokuMuu JokuMuu Yes I drew my profile pic :slight_smile:
I’m a cartoonist , you can check my work here if you want :

@DavidP the buzz must come from the virtual amp i think . I used amplitube5 with reaper but tonight i got no buzz or sound at all … looks like it was not working
I should probably buy one more cable , i only got one so i plug my guitar directly on the focusrite
Maybe i should plug my guitar in my amp and then the amp in the focusrite ?

Oh recording the backing track in reaper is possible but the sound was awfull , not clear at all , and after i would have had to synchronise it with my playing
it was too difficult to do for me and since the backing track was not available , i could only share the recording of my guitar

Well i ve never heard of OBS
I’ll be busy with my work for the next 2 weeks but if i have a free day after that , I’ll look into it

Deborah, I am not an expert or person with decades of experience. That said, I would not expect the virtual amp to be adding such buzz. Your tone sounded pretty clean ie not high gain or additional overdrive/fuzz added to get a distorted sound, which can introduce some buzz.

If I was to guess a few things to check, the first would be the cable. If the cable is of low quality, such as is sometimes provided as part of a bundle purchase, that could cause noise. It is not necessary to buy the most expensive branded cable, but a decent quality cable is important. Secondly, I’d check the gain setting on the Focusrite. You may get noise if that is turned way up and then watch the halos around the knob. You should turn the gain down to ensure the halos stay green, no red.

Not sure why it would not be working, probably some settings in the computer or Reaper. I would start out without the virtual amp and ensure you get signal from the Focusrite into Reaper. Do you see the green halos on the Focusrite? If not then likely a faulty cable.

If the green halos present then make sure the Reaper audio settings are set to the Focusrite ASIO driver.

For the purposes of recording to aid learning, you will be fine just recording the guitar direct via Focusrite into Reaper. Keep the track level fader set at 0dB and aim for the meter showing an average level around -12dB, never going red above 0dB and you’ll be fine.

Once all that is good then you can add the virtual amp plugin on the track.

I had a quick look on the web at your amp. It does not seem to have either a USB or speaker output. So I think the amp for practice and direct recording, guitar into Focusrite into Reaper (or OBS), is the way to go.

That’s interesting. Again not something I would expect. I would expect the recording to match the quality of the playback out the app you hear in your speakers/headphones. Hard to say more without knowing more.

Yup, that’s the challenge and learning to do so is an important part of developing good rhythm and timing.

Shout if you have questions when you get to that. You may find it a simpler solution to be able to record your playing over the backing track with both included.

Wow :smiley: What an artist you are :smiley: Just imagine: You can already paint silently so beautifully and now your are learning to paint loudly, playing guitar :slightly_smiling_face:

Some of you work reminds me a bit of Finnish cartoonist Mauri Kunnas, whose work I love a lot

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I had a few minutes to do this
here is what I get when i try to record the backing track on reaper :slight_smile:

settings are : Audio device : USB advanced audio device to record the computer sound

and yes i do see the green halos on the focusrite

That does sound awfully tinny, Deborah.

Unfortunately I am a Windows user, so have no knowledge and experience of how things are setup on an Apple. I did check the Focusrite and see no drivers are required.

Maybe some members who are familiar with Apple and have some experience may offer some thoughts.

I am also wondering if you might give GarageBand a try. As I understand it, it is free and an Apple product so maybe it will work better in harmony with the OS and audio drivers.

@DavidP yeah i know something is wrong but i dont know what …
at first i wanted to use my laptop to play guitar on it but … the laptop died last year so i m only left with the mac but its a cartoonist set up not a musician one , my screen doesn t have a camera or mic , its made for graphists mainly
I have garage band but i didn t understand it :confused:

Day 5 :
Did the training between A D and E chords for a few minutes
Tried the peter gunn theme for a few minutes too
then played Lay down saly and Nobody to blame twice ( grade 2 )
still making mistakes between A and E chords cause my fingers are searching for the old form i ve learned before

Deborah, as I said, unfortunately I am not familiar with Apple OS and devices.

I would think that GarageBand and Reaper work in similar ways conceptually. Step 1 to find the config settings and make sure the audio source is setup to be the Focusrite.

Thereafter figure out how to create a track, arm it for recording, and record some guitar. I am sure there’ll be plenty of videos on YouTube, here’s one

Given issues with Reaper maybe worth taking a little time to at least test things out with GarageBand. I think any DAW will take some time to learn and become familiar.

The other option may be to go directly to OBS. You can first try out the audio recording and if that works well then there is a way to connect your phone via WiFi to OBS so the phone can serve as your camera.