Sairfingers’ Learning Log

I originally posted and started this Road Case, now Learning Log, on the ‘old forum’ on the 11th Feb 2021.

Chapter 1

11th Feb 2018. I started my guitar ‘journey’ 3 years ago today. How can I be so exact I hear you ask! (you probably aren’t but I’ll tell you anyway).

My wife and I were visiting our son and his family who live a couple of hours away. He has been into guitar for quite a few years starting while at university. He is self taught using internet tuition (not Justin I’m afraid) and over the years has become pretty good. So much so that at his wedding in 2013 he got up on stage with the band and played the lead parts of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ on a Gibson Flying V that he had at the time. We all thought it was terrific but he is critical when he looks back at videos of himself playing. Sounds familiar! It was the first time he’d ever played with anyone else. He’s still doesn’t play in a band as work and family commitments keep him too busy but he’s perfectly happy being a home hobby player.

Anyway, at some point during our visit he was showing me some licks and things on his new guitar, a beautiful Martin Eric Clapton 000-28. “Why don’t you take my old acoustic home (a Sigma acoustic) and see how you get on, you’ve always wanted to learn”. And so I did.

The first thing I did when I got back home was print out a chord diagram sheet from the internet. I still use it, now covered in notes and additional hand drawn chords. At the bottom of the print out is the date. 11th Feb 2018.

Re: sairfinger’s Road Case](JustinGuitar Community)

« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2021, 01:36:11 pm »

Keep that chord diagram sheet with your notes, Gordon-
It’ll be worth a small fortune when you hit the big time! 8)
(alternatively, you can also just keep it as a reference…)

Happy third. (minor I guess?)
I do believe I’m hot on your heels but will have to check social media.
Are we not due another ditty soon?

Chapter 2

Ok, let’s travel back in time to the 16 year old ‘sairfingers’. In about 1970 I had a friend who played a bit of guitar. I was seriously impressed by the attention he was getting from girls. I’d like a bit more of that action I thought.

A group of us were down on the beach on a warm sunny evening, yes we do get them in Scotland, and he was strumming some chords. The girls seemed to think he was a god. I thought “I could learn to do that”.

Let’s forget that later in the evening we were all ‘booked’ by the police for skinny dipping and under age drinking! This resulted in us all being grounded for quite a while and thoughts of girls and guitars were put on hold.

We had an acoustic guitar in the attic that my mother had bought when she was a student and had given up playing. I remember it was a Framus with ‘f’ holes and I’ve searched on the internet recently and found it was a Framus 5/50 archtop.

I struggled for a few months trying to play it and almost managed C, mini F and G7 I think, but had horribly painful fingers. With hindsight it must have had a terrible action and maybe really heavy strings but of course there was no internet advice in those days.

My guitar playing friend also gave up around the same time so that was the end of that. I don’t know what happened to that guitar, I wish I still had it. My parents must have sold it or given it away after I lost interest.

I’m not sure if it was the lack of guitar skills or the memory of the cold water, but we decided there must be a better way to impress the girls!

Quote from DavidP
Gordon, you may not consider yourself one for the blogging or with pen and paper, the journalling, but rest assured yiu have a fine turn of phrase and tell a fine story.

Warm sunny evening in Scotland … does take me a bit by surprise.

The fellow who showed me my first chords, aged 19, wove the same spells with the guitar. Plus he had a motorbike. Double cool. At least I can play a little guitar now, enough to impress those who cannot play at all, even enough to impress myself when I think of the struggles to play anything at all to a reasonablly musical level a few years ago.

I see you were ambitious with that first guitar… not the simple Em, E, and Am chords to get going.

So is there a story behind your handle “sairfingers”? Maybe you’ve shared before and I forget?

Chapter 3

Around the time I lost interest in learning guitar, I got my provisional motorbike licence. In those days that allowed you to drive a bike of up to 250cc. So I became the owner of a 1963 Royal Enfield Crusader Sports. I still remember its registration number, 610 TRA. As an ‘L’ driver I couldn’t carry a passenger but I quickly realised the potential!

Although a great looking bike, mine suffered from an ignition problem which I never managed to track down and repair due to lack of funds. The final nail in the coffin was when it conked out during my bike test resulting in a ‘fail due to failure to complete the test’.

I hadn’t told anyone I was sitting the test so despite a bruised ego my street cred remained intact.

A BSA C15 followed which although less visually attractive was much more reliable. I passed my test next time and the ‘L’ plates were ceremonially consigned to the bin.

An old Triumph Bonneville T120 650cc was next but of course as a young man with limited funds I spent more time repairing it than l would have liked. However, to call it a ‘girl magnet’ would have been an understatement!

That was until the time it broke down on a wet night and I had to rather shamefacedly take my new girlfriend home on the bus. Street cred hit a new low that night!

The early 70’s saw the rise of the Japanese ‘superbike’. Up to date technology including an electric start, modern designs and colours. They maybe lacked the throaty roar of the British bike exhaust, but they were reliable. I know my dad was fed up with the oil drip stains on the garage floor.

Enter my Honda CB500 4 cylinder. I managed to convince a bank manager that I was a reasonable risk and I bought the almost new Honda. Fast, clean and most of all reliable, I kept this bike for several years.

My love of motorbikes came to an abrupt end the day I got a rear wheel puncture at 70mph. It happened on a busy dual carriageway and the rear of the bike came round level with the handlebars first on one side then on the other and back and forth until I manage to come to a halt on the grass verge. I thought my number was up that day. Several passing motorists who witnessed the incident stopped and said I was lucky to be alive. One of them gave me a lift home and a friend with a pick up truck later retrieved the bike. I sold it soon after and have never been on a motorcycle since.

I still sometimes have shivers thinking about that incident and indeed what could have happened as I drove around with other peoples’ daughters on the back seat. They are such potentially dangerous things. I know there are a few bikers on the Forum, Toby for one, and I know they only go as fast as you twist the throttle, but it’s also the fact that you become almost invisible to other motorists when you’re out on the road.

Later in life I refused to allow my son to have one and warned my daughter within an inch of her life never to get on the back seat of one.

Well, there wasn’t a mention of guitars there at all. You can blame David for raising the subject.

Chapter 4

This chapter was the result of being asked the origin of my forum nickname ‘sairfingers’.

Back in the Summer of 1990 (not ‘69) I was on a campsite in France with my wife and 2 kids. We were touring around with our caravan and ended up near Sarlat in the Dordogne region.

Anyone who has been camping/caravanning in France will know that the campsites are full of Dutch people and I met up with a bunch of Dutch guys. They all spoke great English so communication wasn’t a problem. They had brought their guitars on holiday with them so there were regular singalongs in the bar and swimming pool area etc. So my interest in guitar was reignited some 20 years after my initial short lived introduction as a teenager.

One of the guitar players was suffering from painful fingertips as he was not a regular player. Much to my amusement he described this in Dutch as ‘zere vinger’, but it was pronounced as ‘sair finger’ (finger pronounced as in singer).

Had our national bard Robert Burns ever written a poem about a sore finger in addition to those for which he is famous like ‘Tae a moose’ (that’s mouse, not the large North American animal) he would undoubtedly have used old Scots and written and spoken it as ‘sair finger’.

Unfortunately when I returned home the guitar spark, like many post holiday plans, was extinguished by work and family commitments.

I never forgot the Dutch guy and his sore fingers and on the 21st March 2018 (I checked my profile) when I joined Justin guitar and needed a nickname and certainly had sore fingers from playing for the previous few weeks, ‘sairfingers’ was born.

Chapter 5

This chapter is for my own use really. I’m trying to keep track of when I posted my AVoYPs in order to monitor my progress. The various songs are a reasonable line in the sand as to where I am/was at that time.
Most of them are ‘first takes’. I prefer that method as it is a better representation of my progress as opposed to a lucky ‘perfect take 20’ recording. (Perfect, of course, being a relative term!)

I’ll add future AVoYP song uploads to an updated version of this post.

Songs :-

12/07/20 : Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door - Bob Dylan

17/07/20 : Catch The Wind - Donovan

11/08/20 : Love Is All Around - The Troggs

30/09/20 : Baby I Love Your Way - Peter Frampton

11/11/20 : You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away - The Beatles

02/12/20 : Father And Son - Cat Stevens

14/12/20 : Winter Wonderland - Various

29/01/21 : I’m Looking Through You - The Beatles

01/03/21 : Lola - The Kinks

11/03/21 : I Threw It All Away - Bob Dylan

26/03/21 : Tell Me That It Isn’t True - Bob Dylan

26/04/21 : Take It Easy - The Eagles

19/05/21 : One More Cup Of Coffee - Bob Dylan

08/09/21 : I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You - Tom Waits

22/09/21 : Lyin’ Eyes - The Eagles

04/12/21 : Norwegian Wood - The Beatles

04/01:22 : Four Strong Winds - Neil Young

19/01/22 : Imagine - John Lennon

30/04/22 : Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door - Bob Dylan - remastered!

25/05/22 : Alberta - Eric Clapton unplugged

18/06/22 : I’m a Believer - Neil Diamond

25/06/22 : Messin’ with a thrill that’s gone

25/07/22 : And I Love Her - The Beatles

02/12/22 : Girl - The Beatles

25/01/23 : Tonight I’ll be Staying Here With You - Bob Dylan

15/02/23 : Tequila Sunrise - The Eagles

16/03/23 : Congratulations - Traveling Wilburys

26/07/23 : Sweet Virginia - The Rolling Stones

14/09/23 : Dead Flowers - The Rolling Stones

19/11/23 : Another Day In Paradise - Phil Collins

20/12/23 : I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause - Various Artists

06/03/24 : She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Cannibals

Improvisation :-

These are very much lines in the sand as this is definitely a work in progress.

28/09/21 : G major & E minor pentatonic scale notes over chords in the key of G

25/10/21 : Minor pent over E and A

03/11/21 : Messin’ in D minor

28/12/21 : Messin’ in Bb

09/03/22 : Foolin’ with Layla - acoustic

[09/03/22 : Foolin’ with Layla - electric]




Great to read this again especially your biking episodes and great to see the progress you have made. Keep doing what you are doing and keep sharing. Always good to share some banter with you.



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I’m always inspired to read RC updates, to be able to follow fellow Community friend’s progress, Gordon, so glad you moved yours over to refresh on your journey.

Keep on making those fingers sair.

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I envy your organization, Gordon. I am a bit more haphazard and therefore fairy undocumented.

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What a great read, Gordon, all the backstory was interesting and entertaining.

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An impressive catalogue Gordon.

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Chapter 6

The next few post are me experimenting with the new Community site. Which is Learning Log content of a different kind!

Winter Wonderland is from last Christmas. I was trying to see how to post a YouTube video on the new Community site. Turns out it’s dead easy. Haven’t worked out how to post a photo yet though.


I’ve always enjoyed cycling. Recently however, age has been catching up on me. During the late summer my wife and I (she’s had an electric bike for a couple of years) were on holiday in the north of Scotland. I actually had to stop and get off my bike - the ignominy - and walk up a hill.
“I told you should have got one”.
Well, now I have. Brilliant thing. You still have to work at it, it doesn’t just propel you along, but boy does it take the sting out the hills!

Unfortunately it’s consigned to the garage at the moment. It’s too cold!


Well there you go. I’ve got the photo thing sorted!

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Now for the hat-trick, what about sorting out how to add one of these animated GIF thingies for that little extra seasoning of a reply


Got it! I had to add the gif into the photo album on my phone and then put it into the post using the little photo icon at the bottom

Everything seems that little bit harder on the phone, compared to on the PC. Glad you got it as I’d have had no clue on the phone :astonished:

Loved the story. Impressive…I always enjoy your covers.

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Looks like the Road Cases have become Learning Logs. Here’s mine.



Love it! As a sometimes sawyer I could relate a fair number of stories concerning ‘learning logs’.

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Hey Gordon nice intro and glad to see you sussed the photo load via mobile. I gave up and will just use the PC but don’t post here to tell me how its done. I will remain blissfully ignorant.

Nice Log !!



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I enjoyed going back through your Learning Log. I didn’t remember about your love of bike riding. Maybe you added that since I read it last. I’m a biker also. However, don’t ride as often. I have a Hybrid Flat Bar Road Bike. Your electric bikes sound pretty cool!

Love your growing list of songs.

I just re-listened to “Lying Eyes”. Great job!

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Thanks Pam. Lyin’ Eyes wasn’t one of my better vocals. The key wasn’t quite right and I was straining a bit.

I added the bike bit onto my road case late summer ‘21. I did 250 miles in 3 weeks when I first got it. I’ve calmed down now though. As I said in the post, it’s sitting in the garage just now - too cold.

My latest AVoYP is here.
Four Strong Winds - Neil Young - sairfingers

:rofl: classic Gordon. Please don’t ever lose your sense of humour. :bat:

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Chapter 7

It’s the 11th of February again. Four years to the day since I started learning guitar - discounting my brief teenage foray - and a year since starting this Learning Log (Road Case as it was then). Where did that year go?

As is inevitable on an anniversary of any sort, one looks back at what has been and forward to what has yet to be.

Ok, a look back at the past 12 months.
In terms of forum/community AVoYPs I’ve posted 10 songs and 4 improvs.
Pretty much all the songs were one takes and as I’ve said before elsewhere on the forum, I’m not so sure this approach does me any favours as I know I’ve played most of them better prior to pressing the record button. I like the format though as it’s representative of where I was at that moment in time. Eventually I hope - like we all do - to be able to produce my best version of a song on that first take.
I was a late starter to AVoYP and take my hat off to others who post early on in their journey. It really is valuable to be able to watch a song back and get constructive feedback on it from others.

That said, the whole point is to put down markers that can be looked back at and improved on. That said again, I’m not sure I’ll go back and try to improve them. I like to feel I’m moving on, not continually going back over old ground. Of course I’ll keep the songs going as part of my repertoire and I’ll revisit them now and again and hopefully they’ll get better the more they’re played. I can add new techniques/styles/embellishments etc. that are learned along the way but I won’t deliberately go back over and over them. There are too many more great songs waiting to be learned and played.

The improvs are a different thing. At the moment I find it almost impossible to repeat an improv. They turn out differently every time! So for them I recorded a few takes and posted what I thought was the best of a bad bunch! Much work is needed there!
I follow all the improv and solo posts from others with great interest.

What did I cover in the past year with Justin’s lessons?
DavidP and I had a discussion a year ot two ago about when can you reasonably start to call yourself an intermediate player. We didn’t really come to a conclusion. Of course it doesn’t matter what you call yourself, it’s what you can do that counts.
In my mind I’ve been calling myself an early intermediate (it sounds better than advancing beginner😉).
During 2021 Justin released the new Grade 3 Beginner Course lessons. I realised there was a lot of new material included there and some of the other lessons in the Beginners Course have also been revised and updated so I’ve been looking at those. Am I a beginner again? I’m happy to think simply of myself as someone who’s learning to play guitar and as we all know, that is a journey without end. I don’t need a label or a Community badge. :joy:

And now a look forward.
I’ve been working through the Major Scale Maestro lessons on the new Intermediate Course and as mentioned already, trying to get my head around improv and Blues licks. Don’t tell Justin but I’ve downloaded a TrueFire course, 30 Blues licks for beginners and I’m working on that too. Bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibrato, double stops. Learning the language and using the words to create sentences and stories are all part of something I don’t fully understand yet. I know it will be a long and bumpy road.
I’ve got the hard copy book of Justin’s Intermediate Course and will continue to work from that in conjunction with the online lessons although the lesson numbers and format no longer match up since there have been a lot of revisions to the course since the book was printed.
I will to continue to work on my fingerstyle and also want to learn some famous riffs and solos, something that’s not really been on my radar until recently.
I also want to post an AVoYP song using my electric. My style at the moment is very acoustic ballad soft rock and I’d like to rock out a bit more although perhaps that’s not really ‘me’. We’ll see.

As you can tell, I’m finding it hard to pick the direction I want to go in at the moment. The Beginners Course (I did the original classic version) was fairly logical and I pretty much followed it through in the order it was presented as each lesson built on the previous one. The Intermediate Course content is different. There’s a load of stuff on barre chords of course and my A Major barre shape is the weakest and the one I need to work on. But other than that you can choose to go down different routes and do things in different orders.
I know one shouldn’t compare progress to others and this has been said many, many times on this forum but it’s unavoidable. When I see/hear others who’ve been playing for a shorter time and concentrated on one area, fingerstyle for example, I realise I spread my practice time thinly over too many things. I know I know……don’t compare and we all practice differently and for different amounts of time, but……

I read posts from others who have very organised practice routines. I’m not one of those. I tend to pick up my guitar and think “what’ll I do today?” I do keep Justin’s “practice what you can’t play, not what you can play” in mind however. I know the JG website has a practice assistant/log thing but I’ve never come to grips with it. I find it very non intuitive and prefer paper and pencil (it’s an age thing!). As my old school reports used to say, “must try harder”. I daresay with a more structured approach I’d be further on after four years but on balance I’m happy with my progress.

Richard_close2u has a mantra - learn songs, learn songs, learn songs. I don’t have a problem keeping to his mantra as that’s what I like doing best even if it’s only banging out a I, IV, V progression to a song I’ve heard on the radio and haven’t learned yet. At the end of the day that’s surely what learning to play guitar is all about.

I really must try to get to grips with some music theory this year. I’m afraid my eyes glaze over and I start to lose the will to live when it gets overly complex.

I’ll wind up this post with a big thank you to Justin for his superb lessons and to all my forum/community friends. I’m very grateful to all who’ve taken the time to read, listen to and reply with advice, support and encouragement (and of course, banter :rofl:). You all know who you are. This place is quite unique.