Marcel (Siff)'s Learning Log

Haha, thx. Some said it’s a bit much for a “beginner” But I just love to have a palette.

It was about 2 years I was rabbit-holing the Kendama (it’s the Japanese more complex version of ball and cup). And the collection grew a bit out of hand (also they don’t last forever in pristine playing condition). Now that I take my travel guitar everywhere my hands are mostly busy with the guitar when idle.

But since Justin explained the idea of balance training before learning new stuff to make the brain kinda more receptive to learning, I dusted them off and use a few tricks for brain warm-up before practicing/learning. (I sadly can’t find the video).

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I see, how interesting. Never seen them before. Could be a stocking filler for my 8 year this year. I did wonder how you managed to balance the ball on top but I understand now having watched a video. Thanks for sharing.

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Update September 2023:

Still consolidating the Beginner Course, but continued the practical Music Theory to Grade 4 and now consolidating that for the moment.

Happy I got pretty well into barre chords so far, so MT Grade 4 wasn’t as impractical to consolidate as it seemed some weeks ago.

Didn’t get to do as much recording as I wanted. I’m still working on correcting the video setup (better lighting and less visual clutter).
Also still experimenting with how to blend 2 mics and the piezo (and voice) better in the mix.

Haven’t had time or energy over the day to do a better take since some days, so this has to do for now.

My takeaways after editing:
  • Rushed the intro and got a bit creative with the outro
  • Dynamics in the chorus could be more emphasised
  • Don’t look to the side when singing into the microphone
  • Change the placement of the stands to be less obstructive
  • Don’t stop tapping the foot if using it as a metronome.
  • Try Percussive Knocks on wood instead of the pickguard
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Hi Marcel,
Enjoyed your performance. You seem to have covered a lot of areas for tweaking in your own analysis.
This made me smile

when I watched it back.
Thought you did a nice job with the strumming pattern including the percussive hit :clap:
Best wishes,

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Again almost two weeks passed and couldn’t get to record :frowning:

Got to prepare for some better recordings and comfort though.
Cleared up and reorganized the room where I record acoustic guitar in the meantime.

Here is the view from behind the recording space now:

Still waiting on a softbox for a bit better lighting, got only a lamp with a cushion lining over it for the moment.

Hope I can do some more rehearsal videos in the next days, now that my set up is more comfy.

I also finally (had to) restring my electric guitar (1st string broke when trying to clean it (0.009 gauge, so maybe a bit wimpy).
This went almost smoothly until I overturned the new 1st string and it broke. I haven’t had any more electric guitar strings around and everything was closed on the weekend, so I broke out one of the acoustic string packs I luckily had lying around, and the 0.011 gauge was close enough and it worked well.

Today I restocked all kinds of strings and restrung my classical and my travel guitar too for the first time, yay.
Only took a 3rd string to break on the travel guitar… (hopefully) I finally have learned my practical lesson in restringing.

Being a bit addicted to learning new things (especially from Justin :P) I haven’t had many new guitar lessons to absorb, as I’m still consolidating Grade 3.
So I continued in the theory course and found more and more clarity there. These are only a few of the dozens of papers I scribbled on to get the Major Theory into my head.

Next up :

  • Mad World Fingerstyle for “Acoustic 10 Song Set Rehearsal”
  • Ranchera “Mariachi” Song “Para Siempre” performed on classical guitars and overlayed with leads for AVOYP.

Today I found some daytime to record a take of Mad World:

I still haven’t learned the melody but I like how the two fingerstyle patterns sound (R3231232 for verses and R3212321 for choruses)

Some start problems like hesitant chord changes, looking at guitar (away from mic) and wrong lyrics (drown my sorrow instead of drown in sorrow).

Else I’m happy so far with the recording.

I did some mixing, still experimenting with how to mix the guitar tone. Had to lower the microphones of the guitar as they had some noise, hope it’s sounding ok with more of the piezo guitar sound. Next time I got to gainstage the guitar recording microphones better if playing something softer, so the noise floor gets lower.

Next up is a simple version of “The thrill is gone”


Making good progress, Marcel. Just keep doing what you are doing.

I think the guitar tone was good. Perhaps you could mix the vocal just a wee bit softer, perhaps just backup from the mic an inch or two more?

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Salut Marcel,
Glad you found some axe-time to share :grinning:
I agree, the fingerstyle patterns are pleasing on the ear.
Hehe, I often change lyrics, esp. if I am not that fond of the originals and in your case, your ‘mistake’ improves them for me :laughing:

I’m not sure that’s quite right. I think you do know the melody, but are subconsciously singing the harmonies instead of the main melody :thinking:
I am surprised how often I start the song on a wrong note (usually the 1,3 or 5) and only notice a couple of bars in that things aren’t ‘right’.
Try singing the first vocal note of each bar on E, B, A, A and see if you prefer that (well half a note higher as you have the capo on 1). I believe that’s closer to the original, but it’s also good to make songs your own :wink:

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Hi Marcel,
What David say`s about vocal mix I echo,
and I found fingerpicking pleasant to listen to… well done :sunglasses:


“You were my first and my last this morning…” :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Get back to :guitar::wink:


:rofl: :joy: :rofl:
DON’T DO THAT when I’m drinking tea :see_no_evil:

(I have 3 fingers on the strings again :smiley:, 1 more to go :sweat_smile:)

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Thank you for the feedback and the advice.
Overcompenstated mixing my voice this time as I often got the feedback it‘s too quite. I will also try to reduce proximity and saturation for a less blocky sound.
(Some people advise on kissing the SM58. I‘ll try to only be very close instead of making out with it next time. )

Hehe, yeah if done with intent it‘s great. But funnily enough it trips up my guitar playing when vocals go awol. Gotta learn to embrace happy accidents.

Regarding melody I meant more that I didn’t yet play the melody from tab on the guitar. Never thought my picking could influence my singing melody though.
Now that you say that. I will keep an eye (ear) on it.
„Merci viumal für d’tips“!

Thanks for checking it out, yeah vocals are still something I got to get better at mixing too, always hard to find a balance between loud enough and not egregious. Especially when the singing is still not very developped.

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Indeed they do. Personally I have found no need to do that with my dynamic mic. But of course one sees performers on stage doing that. Perhaps that is necessary on stage with mics setup to try and minimise bleed from the PA system and on-stage monitors. As I said, I think backing off and perhaps turning the gain up a little to get the right level delivers a good enough result.

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“Rehearsal Nr. 3: The thrill is gone”

Played with capo on two as per Justin Beginners Book.
I tried to add some little sus notes to make up a little for the lack of lead playing.

There are sadly some stutters due to technical problems. Hope they are not too jarring.
Sometimes it’s my playing :stuck_out_tongue: , but other times they are digital problems.

I’m still figuring out some stuff with my phones as cameras. Either the Wi-Fi connections or having too many things running on the PC may be the cause.

There’s always something in the recording process to tweak too. A checklist may be appropriate.

Here some thoughts on what to put on a setup checklist
  • Check…
  • …lighting (had light reflecting back from the window, should lower blinds)
  • …if doors and windows are closed
  • …if there is some untidy object in the frame (ashtray next to my family pictures, rag visible etc.)
  • …if the guitar is plugged in (this time I forgot so I only got the mic sound recorded)
  • …the tuning of the guitar
  • …the position of the capo
  • …all microphone positions
  • …all gain levels
  • …the posture
  • …the framing of the cameras
  • …the PC for unnecessarily running programs (could introduce stutter)
  • …if video and audio are set to record in OBS and DAW
  • …if OBS is set to record both videos with different names

Next Up: Good Riddance (Time of your Life)


Sounding good, Marcel, making good progress. Liked the percussive strum and vocal expression. Keep on doing what you are doing to continue to polish it up.

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Sounds good, Marcel! Your progress truely reflects the effort you put in practicing and consolidating. It’s paying off nicely. Without the technical stutters, I bet the rhythm would have been quite solid, so well done on this one. :+1: Looking forward to “Good Riddance”. :smiley:

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Lagging behind with the recordings. On the positive side, more time to consolidate before moving on :wink:

Overhauled the recording setup and ironed out dozens of technical problems. Hope I finally have a fast workflow to make videos and can learn to perfect them. Now need a better camera someday.

4 - Good Riddance (Time of your Life)

Had some technical issues. Not the best take and after listening a lot to the original I find it hard to gel with the vocals cadence in relation to the guitar (that’s why I still get hiccups in the rhythm when trying to fit in the voice).
Maybe it just doesn’t really fit my vibes or maybe with some practice and more listening it will click with me.
Otherwise, I feel this is a candidate for future replacement with another song in my core repertoire for me. Still, I’ll try to get it up to some standard to be able to play it in this set for the “exam” at least.


I put a bit of Autotune on the voice so it’s a bit less grating. It couldn’t salvage it without sounding too artifical, but I feel it tamed some parts okay.


Very good self assessment on this one, Marcel. For the parts in between your rhythm seemed nice and solid to me and playing was smooth, but as soon as you also were about to sing, it kind of fell apart a little. Is it, because you “think” too much about how to sing it right? Is it, because on the whole it is too fast to do both at the same time? Lots of possible reasons, I guess. :sweat_smile: But if you take your time analysing what it is that throws you off, you’re halfway down to solving it. :smiley:

I’d share my advice, if I may: You’re doing good listening to the original a lot. What about singing along with Billy Joe? This helps you get a feel for the melody and rhythm of the vocal track. Secondly, try figure out the melody line by ear on the guitar - this really helps me for singing melodies I’m unsure of. And next, if you want to put singing and playing together, slow it down and simplify the guitar a little in the first instances (simple strumming). Gradually add complexity and speed. I spent probably 3-4 months on this tune before I got it in a way to be happy with it and still not even close to the speed of the Original at all. :sweat_smile:

I recall your first post of this one and see huge progress already, so all the effort you put in pays off. I think, this is a more tricky tune as one would expect and needs time to develop. If you will stick to it, you’ll be able to play and sing it solid someday.

I hope you read it in the way I wanted to say it: Positively and constructively. :smiley: To my view, you’re on a very good way and learned a lot already in the past months and doing good in strengthening all these things. :+1: Further, your production skills impress me and it kind of gets better with every post you share.

Looking forward to the next one! :slight_smile:

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Thank you Lisa for the analysis and tips! :blush:

I recently watched your version and saw you with a capo on one and nice ornamentations on the "d"s. Thought about tuning the guitar down for me, but then I noticed my singing was rhythmically and melodically totally different anyway than the original. :sweat_smile:

So thanks to checking out some other avoyp like yours it helped me listen better where others focus the attention to details I’m maybe missing out.

I like the song, but I was never a punk rock aesthetics guy. I love how he sings, but even in the ballad, he uses this unhinged cadence that’s hard for me to feel.
But as you say. I’ll try and improve it some more. It’s fun to play and the more one plays it the less one needs to think about the guitar and finally the voice can get more attention.

Good tips thanks. :ok_hand:

Oh yeah, I forgot to say in my last post:

Next up House of the Rising Sun :city_sunrise:
(hopefully a bit sooner, still so eager to finally really start to consolidate all the barre chords I already started to lear)

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I think you can be well played with progress, Marcel.

Lots of good advice from @Lisa_S already. All I can say, from personal experience and observation, is that it appears to come quite easily for some people to play and sing together in a natural sounding way, and others (very much like me) find it quite difficult to marry the playing and singing together, irrespective of how well one may be playing the song. I have found over the years that there are songs where I am able to get into a natural groove playing and singing and others that I just struggle. The good news is I have found that sometimes after much time passed I could go back and play and sing songs that were previously beyond me. And I stress, this has nothing to do with the chords and strumming pattern (which of course is sometimes a problem on its own)

I only know the song from watching and listening to people here in the Community. I know it is up tempo but it felt a little rushed to me. It may sound and feel a little better if you slow down just a fraction.

Nothing wrong with the camera from what I can see.

I am interested in recording and expect others may benefit if you share some details of your workflow. And to continue to develop that, if possible a hint of reverb on your voice may add something. Not so much that it sounds like your voice is echoing around a chamber, just enough that nobody might notice reverb but you notice its absence rather than its presence.