Oliver’s learning log

Hi all. Thought I’d pop a post up to start recording my progress. I’m very new to guitar, have got a little way into ukulele in the past, and for the last year or so have been playing around with a Seagull Merlin stick dulcimer which I’ve really enjoyed.

I’ve started right at the beginning of the app, initially playing on my wife’s budget classical guitar, then yesterday we went out and I bought a Sigma DT-1 dreadnought. My wife accidentally bought herself another ukulele too!

The new guitar is much more comfortable to form chords with the slimmer neck, looks lovely, and even at my level sounds much nicer.

Goals are to be able to play through a few songs at some point. I’d really like to be able to play a few campfire songs for our Sea Scout group, and as a proper gen-x tragic would like to be able to play some Nirvana, MTV unplugged style. Part of the reason I like the Martin-style Sigma is that it’s a little bit like Kurt’s D-18.


Hi Oliver, good to v-meet you and welcome along on the journey. Great for you to have an instrument that “fits” you and hope it propels you forward. Justin’s process is spot on so I wish you the best of luck and above all fun on your journey. Look forward to hearing your progress :+1:

Hey Oliver, great stuff. Glad to see you are contributing to the community. I remember upgrading to a better guitar once I’d proved to myself I’d made enough progress. Makes a difference for sure.

I haven’t proved I’ve made any progress! But I’ve enjoyed the dulcimer, sufficiently that I’m confident that I’m OK with stringed and fretted instruments. I played flute and recorder and sang in the choir at school so I’ve got some music basics but had never really played anything with strings.

Welcome Oliver. Won’t take you too long to get into some Nirvana classics, a lot of their stuff is reasonably straightforward.

Welcome to the Community, Oliver. Had to laugh at your wife accidently acquiring a new uke when you bought the Seagull. You are in the right place to learn and grown as guitar player and musician.

I would recommend that as you progress with the lessons on the App you watch the equivalent video on the website plus read the accompanying notes. Nothing wrong with the app lessons, just that I think there are extras on the website. And in the long run you’ll need to switch to the website since the app lessons only cover grade 1 and 2.

Thanks all for the welcome and support. Just as a note on progress, and when to move on from modules; I’m working on the second module (A,D,E chords) and will stick with that till I can play all the way through ‘For What It’s Worth’ hitting all the recommended chords (one strum/bar most of the way, two in some of the bars) at 100% speed. I can get most of the way there at 80% speed, I’m just missing some of the E to D changes. Might do ‘Common People’ too as I love that song!

Does that sound a reasonable ‘pass’ for a beginner? I don’t want to rush things as I want to get the basics solid. I can’t rush too much anyway as I’m having medical treatment which knocks my dexterity back for several days a fortnight, so I have some enforced days off.

Sounds good Oliver, playing the two songs through at 80% with the occasional poor change would be good enough to start work in the next lesson IMO. And as you learn and practice the next chords/technique continue to play those songs as part of your guitar time.

Following the logic above - making sure I can play through a few songs at least hitting most of the chord changes - I’m up to module 4 now. I had a go at strumming right through the bars using the down/down/up/up/down pattern in ‘For what it’s worth’ as well, rather than just the leading note in each bar. That was fun but put me off getting the quicker E/D/A changes.

I’m finding all the transitions between Am, Dm and E in ‘Chocolate Jesus’ pretty tricky so it looks like I’ll be working on those for a while. The string-to-string changes within a fret instead of fret-to-fret with anchor fingers seems to be the difference. Also introducing my little finger to do Dm has meant another callus to start growing!

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Sounds like you’re making good progress Oliver, once you start to mix strumming patterns with chord changes you will notice a bit of an impact on the clean changes but it passes quickly, your hands know what they’re doing, it’s just your head dealing with a pattern and changes!

I found Dm to be my first “struggle” chord, particularly getting good changes to it, so you’re definitely not alone there. As you’ve recognised, introducing little finger to the party is interesting!

All the best! Keep smiling :slight_smile:

Oliver, you’re giving me flashbacks to a few months ago when I started, with you talking about Common People and For What It’s Worth :grinning:. I remember playing through Common People and my fingers absolutely aching by the end. Amazing how the pain stops happening once those calluses build.

Hi Oliver, trying songs will give you hints of what you could be needing to work on a little more, but also will give you the reward of hearing what you have advanced.

Welcome, Oliver. I look forward to following your journey!

It’s cold and wet here in Lower Hutt, NZ today. I’m still working away at the minor chords, Am, Em and especially Dm which I find a real challenge to change to. I’m having to look at each finger placement for that one.

However! If I only play one chord per bar I can play through and mostly sing through ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ which I really love singing. I’ll keep working on that song, I’ve had a look at Justin’s video lesson on it too which expands the strumming advice a bit. I’d like to play it with a few more strums etc so I’ll work on that. And that’ll likely be the first thing I upload for kind and gentle criticism, once I can mostly get the Em → Dm change.

I had a go at recording myself with my iPhone today which sort of worked, and I think is good enough quality that you can see my current ability. Which was so bad that I deleted it but I’ll have another go some time soon.

I was also tempted to shoot out to the shops and buy an audio interface, microphone etc as I’m a ridiculous tech collector and the Scarlett 2i2 is on a slight special at the Rockshop till the end of the day, but I restrained myself and might save that purchase up until I have something slightly better to record.


Sounds like you are making progress, Oliver. Keep it up, slow and steady, you’ll master those chords. And I look forward to the moment when you share your playing.

I’m still working away at things, still making progress. I’ve watched the lessons right through Grade 1 and am happy that I have all the 8 chords, still working on making all the changes quick enough and working on some songs. So I’ll stick to getting a set of songs playable for a while now.

Dropped in to the music shop this afternoon to see what playing an electric is like. One followed me home so that’ll be a new thing to experiment with!

It’s an Aria Pro II 714, feels really nice. I also bought a Blackstar ID Core 20 amp.

I’ll have to go back for a decent cable though, there was one in the box with the guitar that I thought would do for a while but I get tremendous hum if I turn the gain up or use high gain voices, even with just the cable connected. I assume it’s crap and it’s not shielded properly.

Guitar looks smoking, really pops on that deep purple wall, Oliver.

It may be your guitar cable, but may also be your amp power cable.

I have a Blackstar amp and mine came with a power cord that had a 2 pin plug on the end of it. I had plenty hum that pretty much disappeared when I replaced that power cord with an old PC kettle cord with a proper three pin plug. The amp power socket is wired up for earthing and I think the two pin and not connecting to house earth circuit was a problem.

Thanks for the tip. This amp runs from a 10v laptop-style power adapter and can also run from a battery pack. I assume the amp is floating like most digital products but it might be meant to be earthed. I’m sure I’ll figure it out, that or the house is faulty.

Thanks Oliver. So I suppose the obvious question, sure you’ve tried this, is whether or not you get the hum when amp is running on battery?

My wife got a budget bass and as I recall the cable that came with it was cheap and nasty, hummed like crazy. So a good option to get a better quality cable.

I don’t have the battery, that’s an optional extra for buskers etc.

I played a similar bigger Blackstar amp with the same modeling setup in the shop and was pretty impressed. I doubt I’ll be straying far from a clean tone for a while but there’s heaps of scope for different tone and effects.

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