Sandro's Learning Log

Hi all, I joined this community last month and it’s been great to be a part of so far.
I thought I would finally create a Learning Log post to write down what I’ve done to reach the point that I’m at right now in my guitar journey. And I suppose this post will also just generally help me to keep track of old stuff that I’ve tried and new stuff that I might learn while I’m here.

My first interaction with the guitar was on Guitar Hero 3 during uni :laughing:

Joking aside, my journey of properly learning the guitar started about 2.5 years ago.

Prior to that, sometime in maybe 2018 (or could’ve been 2019?) I had a short lived failed attempt at “learning” to play. The only thing that I did during that brief period was usually find some random online tab sheets of simple songs or video game melodies and play single notes one at a time just by copying what was in front of me. I still have some phone audio of me trying to copy video game tabs, but I won’t bother uploading those ones.

I had zero knowledge of guitar chords or strumming by the end of that stint, because at that point in time it never occurred to me to read up on anything about actually playing the guitar (pretty dumb of me I know). So I eventually got bored of just copying tab sheets, gave up and stored away the guitar.

About 2.5 years ago at the start of 2020 I set a goal that I wanted to have a real crack at learning the guitar.
And then when the covid stay-at-home lockdowns began around March 2020, I had so much spare time on my hands that I just decided to make the best of a very bad situation and used the guitar learning process to get through the boredom of being stuck inside.

I probably took the long way around for learning music theory and chords when compared to a lot of others here. Because I was using a whole lot of different online resources just by google searching whatever I could find, rather than sticking to one specific source with a structured plan.

I’ve got to admit that even though I had used some of Justin’s Youtube tutorials to learn songs that I liked during my own learning process, I never actually knew about his different level graded courses until I signed up here last month.
I presume a very outlined approach like his courses would have been a much more preferable option to start with, rather than just winging it like I did.

But during lockdown I would literally read up, watch or attempt to play guitar every single day with anything that I found online - so I suppose my “long way around” method of learning was counter balanced simply by the amount of extra time that I had each day to invest into it.

My learning method when I started off usually consisted of some of the points below:

-Watching online videos of some basic beginner theory or just reading up on it, (I probably accumulated hundreds of bookmarked pages from all over the internet).

-After I had learnt a new chord, I would then google names of songs that contained it and download chord sheets from ultimateguitar, and then try to bluff my way through strumming a song at my own pace. Most of the strums that I was doing at the time sounded the same when I heard back my audio, regardless of which song it was that I was playing :laughing:

-When I noticed that my chord sheet method wasn’t really sounding too good on its own I started looking up Youtube video tutorials for the specific songs. And that is when I noticed a couple of blokes that kept consistently popping up in those tutorials… one of them being Justin.

With someone actually visually explaining the process of learning a specific song, it actually made it much easier than just trying to do it from a chord sheet.

-Once I had a small list of songs to practice (but not yet play well), I decided to start keeping track in a notebook.

Below is the first page in my notebook with the small list of songs that I was trying to learn early on.


I would circle a chord next to a song if it was the first time that it had been introduced to me (and nope, that is not the writing of a primary school kid, but rather a 30-something year old that probably forgot how to write with a pen)

I also used that notebook as a simple log to write a few words about what I played or was trying to learn each day (the writing actually got much worse over time)

And so basically using Youtube song tutorials in combination with me reading/watching the bookmarked material about theory, became my consistent way of learning thereafter.

Things like strumming, chord changes, etc. just sort of fell in place over time just by repeating the above process and slowly increasing my list of easy beginner songs, which I played over and over again (a bit too excessively at times).

Below is the guitar that I started off with and it’s the only thing I’ve ever played on so far. It’s older than I am.

It’s a Shiro A577 Classical Guitar - I doubt anybody has heard of it. It might not be a fancy known brand but it’s got sentimental value to me because it was originally bought by my dad as a gift for my mum when they were younger.
However she had not played it since before I was born. So when I was having my first thoughts about trying to learn the guitar I decided to “borrow” it from her (rather than let it collect dust for another 3 decades).

During my early learning process that I outlined above it felt like I was in a daily 24/7 beginner guitar player mode → I was always enthusiastically listening to or looking out for anything that might sound OK to play on my classical guitar (whether it be in a TV commercial, series, movies, video game, radio, etc…)

But eventually the time and effort that I put into it reduced after the lockdowns finished and then other things started coming up too.
Furthermore, learning the guitar has been more of a personal hobby for me. And so without having a real outlet to show any of the stuff that I was learning, I suppose that I lost my enthusiasm and motivation to stick with what I was doing.

So I decided to take a break from it in late 2021 with intentions of resuming sometime again early this year, after the new years/holiday period was over.
But I just kept putting it off for no particular reason… up until last month when I was searching online to see if there were any websites/forums where beginners could share some of their stuff. And that’s when I found this community and thought it looked pretty friendly after reading through a few posts.

I then signed up here pretty quickly, uploaded a video to Youtube for the very first time right after joining, and then shared a couple of old videos in AVOYP. That little step seems to have motivated me to get back into learning and playing. And so since then, I have taken out my guitar again and I’ve been back at it regularly for the last few weeks.

My initial goal at the very start of the whole journey was to just learn how to play a few songs, which I can do now.

One of my future goals might be to finally play in front of people. I’d probably also want to learn some latin style playing, to hopefully be able to play a couple of specific South American songs that my mum would recognise so that she could sing along to if I play it for her. But some of the specific songs that I intend to learn have no english tutorials.
My “spanglish” is quite ordinary, and the fact that Latin guitar theory doesn’t use letters of the alphabet for chord names, it is kind of difficult for me to follow at times.

So for now, my main goal at the moment is just to keep up some sort of a simple consistent routine. I would like to just set myself a task of at least playing 3-4 days a week, to hopefully avoid another long unnecessary break.

I think that just by sharing some of my stuff here, it’s provided that extra little kick of enthusiasm that I was lacking at the start of this year.
And with so many people sharing and interacting on these forums, I hope to try and fill in some of my beginner gaps while I’m here.
Because after joining up and briefly skimming over a few of Justin’s beginner grade modules, it was pretty evident to me that I’ve bypassed some essentials during my own unstructured method of learning :worried:

The Blues module caught my eye, as I don’t think I have really done anything in that style either. So I’ve got that 12 bar blues stuff on repeat at the moment, and already discovered some new 7th chord variations.

I hope to stick around here for a little while to pick up new things and just continue playing.

Well that’s about it for my learning journey so far. Below are a list of some songs that I’ve tried out at various stages of my progress. Hoping to add a few more along the way. Cheers


RECORDED BETWEEN EARLY 2020 AND SOMETIME IN 2021 (Audio files)

The date and timestamps of my recorded files got messed up when I transferred them over to my current phone, so I couldn’t figure out the chronological order that they were recorded in. Therefore I’ve just listed them alphabetically in the playlist.

I’ve only initialed the songs (to minimise the likelihood of them showing up in random search results)… But if anybody is curious about any particular one that I was attempting to play, then I can provide the song title if requested. Or I might just end up trying to do some more of these as videos in the future, since most of these songs only exist as old audio files.


RECORDED IN LATE 2021 (Videos)

I posted a few of these old videos in AVOYP when I first joined this site - just so that I could get the ball rolling for me at the time, since I was brand new member.
I will just leave the other old unposted videos here in this Learning Log section only. But I might decide to record newer versions of some of those unposted ones later down the track.

Tears In Heaven - Eric Clapton (posted on AVOYP)
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/tears-in-heaven-clapton-beginner-cover/79644

Layla Unplugged - Eric Clapton (half completed)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trQ-4bkkvsg

Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veEM8iKLugE

People Are Strange - The Doors (posted on AVOYP)
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/people-are-strange-the-doors-beginner-stuff/79706

Good Riddance (Time of your Life) - Green Day
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DA0HRMNLqMQ

45 - Shinedown
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pde643xFcoQ

Shallow - Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga (posted on AVOYP)
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/shallow-cooper-gaga-cover/79858

More Than Words - Extreme (In standard tuning, i.e. not tuned down)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkGJg3Y4BuM


RECORDED AFTER JOINING JG COMMUNITY

The videos in this section below were done after I signed up on this forum. I’ll keep editing this list if I do more in the future… with the idea of also creating an individual AVOYP post for most of the new ones that I do.

MAY 2022

Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin (WIP)
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/stairway-to-heaven-led-zeppelin-early-work-in-progress/80102

Light My Fire - The Doors
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/light-my-fire-the-doors/80427

Sleep Walk - Santo & Johnny
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/sleep-walk-santo-johnny-with-backing-track/80849

JUNE 2022

Hey Hey - Eric Clapton/Big Bill Broonzy
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/hey-hey-eric-clapton-big-bill-broonzy/87013

Layla Unplugged - Eric Clapton (including main solo)
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/layla-unplugged-eric-clapton/93084

JULY 2022

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out - Various Artists/Clapton
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/nobody-knows-you-when-youre-down-and-out/97144

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Hi Sandro, wandering in the wild has its benefits, looks like you have learnt plenty along the way. Justin is just the ticket for structure and sharing on here will do wonders for your motivation :+1:

Stick in!

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Great stuff, always fascinating to hear how people have progressed in their journey.

I chucked at your description of your handwriting. Your handwriting is still far better than mine (I’m 64). I remember my youngest daughter scolding me when she was in primary school and she saw my sloppy handwriting. She said if she wrote that badly her teacher would make her do it over again.

That’s a great goal. It helps you focus and really adds to your ability.

If there’s any way you can make it part of your daily routine, so it just happens without thinking is worth tryingl Like always pick up the guitar after your morning coffee or tea. Or play it every night before you brush your teeth. Find the trigger if you can.

Thanks for sharing so much of your story. It’s a great story.

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Sandro, thanks for sharing your story here. Always interesting and inspiring to read such stories.

I’ve enjoyed and appreciated the skills you have developed through watching all the recordings you’ve shared in AVOYP. Your approach may have been a little unstructured, but some would say a ‘learn songs’ approach is a good way to learn, especially if one listens and transcribes the originals (the way so many great players learned before the internet).

Have found Justin’s structured programmes you will probably benefit from work through from the start. Lots will be familiar and you move swiftly on and along the way you’ll fill in gaps and strengthen your foundation.

Look forward to following along.

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That was a good read Sandro. Hopefully the rekindled excitement for guitar stays and grows. You’ve built some quite good skills already.

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@liaty thanks Dave. I got lost in the wild quite often. For an embarrassingly long time I would rely on chord diagrams to see where each of my fretting fingers needed to press to make barre chords. My happiest day in the wild was probably when I had my “light bulb” moment and finally realised the connection between the shapes being used for each barre. I was blown away by such a simple discovery.

@tony cheers mate. I think I need to break away from the idea of requiring a lengthy practice session to get “something out of it”… which is why I sort of thought that setting a goal to play every day might not be achievable for me like it used to be.
But you might have a good idea to find a trigger to just play it - even if I can only manage a short 15-30minute session on a day that I wouldn’t have otherwise played, then that would still be better than skipping a day entirely .

@DavidP I didn’t realise that my post would turn out to be a long essay when I started writing it :slight_smile:
I’ve found a couple of beginner modules that interested me and sat through one of those already. I’m currently practicing one of the songs that Justin suggested as part of that module… but yeah, I might also work through some of the earlier modules at some point like you’ve suggested. cheers

@jkahn thanks JK. I’ve found myself thinking more about guitar in the last few weeks than I did for the previous 5 months before joining. So it feels like I’m headed back in the right direction.

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Dumb question if anyone reads this: but how do I make the videos from my main Log post only show up as clickable links, rather than the embedded video or the avoyp summary showing up? Because I just want to keep the main post here a little less cluttered.

On my first avoyp I somehow did a clickable youtube link by mistake until someone helped me out to embed it. But now that I’m trying to do the opposite, even using the short abbreviated url seems to show the embedded videos on here :thinking:

That’s what worked for me in the early days. My goal back then was to play 15 minutes a day, every day. Once I got my momentum up with learning songs and such, it because easy to stretch that out longer because the enjoyment and reward was there. Soon, playing guitar became a way of life, something that happens every day without fail. There’s the odd exception and for me thankfully they are rare.

You can either paste the link in at the end of a line of text or type text in a new line, highlight to select it, and then click on the hyperlink icon in the menubar at the top of the edit window (the one that looks like two links of a chain) or use the shortcut keys (in a Windows browser) CTRL+k.

@tony I’ll give that method a try and see how we go. ta

@DavidP I managed to make them into hyperlinks using your instructions, thanks :+1:

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Captain’s log, number #140622

Nothing new to report really… but just thought I’d like to post a log here maybe once every couple of weeks or once a month.

I was relatively happy with my most recent recording that I did last week as part of the Grade 2 Blues Module.
While checking out a couple of other blues standard songs I came across some 8 bar blues stuff, which was new.

I’ve also briefly been trying some basic blues solos/improv. I’m alright when it comes to playing other people’s stuff - like I grasped Justin’s blues solo examples pretty quickly. But when I try to do my own true improvisations using the Am pentatonic, it just kind of sounds a bit random at the moment. I’ll work on it with some online backing tracks when I revisit that in the future.

In the meantime I’m trying to stick with a suggestion from one of the previous comments above, to just get the guitar in my hands on a daily basis.
-If I have a quick little session in the mornings before starting work, I’m fine with just playing/improving on songs that I already know off the top of my head.
-Otherwise if I have capacity for a more lengthy session (which is usually later in the week), I’ll try check out some new things to learn, practice and experiment with.

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Love it :grinning:

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Nice update Sandro, reminds me I need to also do one as it’s been about a month since my last confession :wink:

We’re in pretty much the same place on the course it seems, I’m also on the Blues module and finding it far more fun than I thought I would, something about the rhythm catches you! I have good days and bad days on the solo improvising, more bad than good!

Sounds like you’re having fun with everything, always nice to read!

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Captain’s log, number #070722

I’ve had a brief stint at practicing a handful of songs that contained a short solo in them… a couple of those I posted on avoyp.

But at the moment I’m keen on checking out more fingerstyle-focused songs. The new one that I started to learn on the weekend, has kept me busier than usual. So during my short morning guitar sessions this week, rather than following my routine of playing something from my regular playlist, I have just been repeating smaller sections of this song to try get the hang of it.
If I manage to make a video of this one, I might just link it in my main learning log post rather than doing an avoyp for it, since I only got the idea of trying it out after I saw someone else’s version that was recently posted in avoyp.

Another thing that I did on a whim was attempt to “transcribe” a mostly-piano theme song from a cheesy obscure childhood movie that I watched for the first time in over 20 years.
I couldn’t find any guitar tabs/chords anywhere online for this specific theme, nor any youtube covers of it… so I just basically tried to match the notes of the piano melody with my guitar until I could follow it through in my head. It was a nice little exercise for me to practice some ear training, but it sounds pretty bare when I play it without anything to accompany the melody. I might try it out with the original theme song faintly playing in the background as a “backing track” if I do decide to make a video for the learning log later on.

Well that’s basically what I’ve been up to this week. Not very structured at the moment, but I suppose practicing a song or 2 is still better than practicing nothing at all.

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Sounds good Sandro. I think as long as one keeps playing and learning then all is good. Or maybe I am justifying my own approach :rofl:

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Hi Sandro, catching up here. Thank you for sharing you story. The more information about your guitar journey you provide the better the advice and appropriate encouragement you can get.

Do not give up about learning that Latin songs for your mom. I have to go all the way around every day. Translating in my mind A,B,C, and so on, to La, Si, Do, and so on. The equivalency is one to one so at the beginning can be confusing but after a while gets automated. Rhythms can be played somewhat different but at the end it can widen your guitar skills. Lack of English speaking videos for Latin songs can be an obstacle but if you have at least some basic Spanish you may be able to use the Spanish speaking ones.

Lacuerda.net has lyrics and chords for many songs in Spanish. You would need a video to find recommendations for the rhythm and some embellishments if you cannot figure it out by yourself (most of the time I cannot).

Maybe you can get familiar with some guitar terms in Spanish first by listening the Spanish version of the Justin Guitar videos. Meanwhile here are some that you maybe already know:

Chord: acorde
Strumming: rasgueo
Finger style: punteo, punteado
Pick: plectro, púa
Beat: tiempo
4/4 time: 4 tiempos

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Muchas gracias Andrés. I will be sure to use your tips when I do try to tackle this goal of mine in the future. Thanks again for your advice.

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