Shaun’s “advancing beginner” log

This seems like a good place to document learning progress and future goals rather than a Google sheet. So here we go :slight_smile:

Current level: End of Beginner module 2 - consolidation phase
Guitar: PRS SE Singlecut
Amp: Marshall MG 30 DFX
Pedal: Just ordered a RAT 2 Pro Co (Arctic Monkeys fan, apparently this helps emulate early sound)

Goals for end of October:

Finish consolidation phase and start grade 3 - polish 5 songs with most complex strumming pattern, start to finish, not looking at the fret board or strumming hand

Current Practice routine:

**Warm up - 15 mins **

Finger Gym
Finger Independence/Minimal movement
Fretboard Memorization (A-G on all strings, 40bpm on metronome)

Scales - 10 mins

Minor Pentatonic Scale - (random notes and directions phase)
Major Scale - (up and down pushing BPM on metronome phase)

Chords - 10 mins

Bar Chords - (1 min changes F to all other chords, focus on wrist position, alleviating bend)

Riffs - 15 mins

Arctic Monkeys - Do I wanna know
Alice Cooper - Schools out for summer
Eric Clapton - Cocaine

Songs - 25 mins

Green Day - Good riddance, Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Johny Cash - Hurt
Oasis - Wonderwall, Live Forever


This is the minimum commitment but on the days I work from home I find I’m able to get the “odd 15 minutes” quite often so doing alot more. I feel like I got addicted to learning new things through grades 1 and 2 and I’m really trying to hold myself back from just becoming a learning addict who doesn’t perfect anything and really focus on some technique and repertoire!


Working through Justins Practical Theory course and also getting to work on transcribing, which I’ve avoided so far because… well… I’m useless at it :slight_smile:


Hi Shaun,

I should take a leaf from your book :roll_eyes: For me that’s a real straight forward no nonsense type of log with enough but not too much info. I don’t run a log atm but was thinking about it but then didn’t want to add something else to the list of things to constantly have to update. I also only wanted to do it once I was sure that I was going to get something out of it.

I like what you have done :+1:

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Looks pretty good mate. Structure and planning is key. Keeps you on the path, makes you accountable, and stops ‘rainbow’ chasing.
Only thing I’d mention is be mindful of loading up your structured practice with too many songs at once. I’d stick with 2 max for a 25 min slot. Up to you though.

Cheers, Shane

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Hi Shaun,

I have never been very good at transcribing, going back to the days of constantly repositioning the needle on the record player to learn a song. To get better at it, I decided to do all of Justin’s transcription recommendations, even though it might take a while. I did the 30-day free test drive of the ‘transcribe’ tool and found it to be a big help. Since it can slow things down as well as loop on a section, it is also useful to practice riffs and solos as well as learning them. You can start at speed to that you can handle, get the timing and feel, and then speed up as you are able to. There are other tools with these capabilities and others here may provide input on them. I found the that using the tool made a big difference in learning to transcribe. I got a lot less frustrated with the process and was able to focus on listening, finding the note(s) or chords, and writing them down.


Thanks for the input, it’s a good point because sometimes I do 1 song the entire time (the picking in Hurt is giving me headaches even after weeks at it, for example) but sometimes I do 5 so I think working through 1-2 each time will really help.


I’ve been doing it from a spreadsheet so maybe that’s why it’s so succinct lol. This is my “must do” routine, after that I’ll allow some YouTube or clicking around the site here, but I had to stop myself wandering :slight_smile:

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Thanks for this, I know I need to do it and it’s good to hear some success stories!

Great first post in your learning log. I like how structured you are, with clearly defined goals.

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9/24/23 - 9/30/23 Plan and notes for the week ahead

Fretboard Memorization

Natural note finding: skip a string then go back 1
Add in sharps and flats this week - up and down, 40 bps


Position 1 of the minor pentatonic - 3s in a line, 4s in a line, note skipping
Improv to backing tracks.


D chord - still miss this every now and then during songs, perfect changes this week

E minor barre shape - Working on wrist position being more neutral. Injured myself doing it at almost 90 degrees over a period of 8 weeks it seems. Thumb sideway along the neck.


Good Riddance - working on the picking pattern
Boulevard of Broken Dreams - working on the strumming pattern, bar chords and dynamics for chorus
Johnny Cash - picking pattern, focusing on chord changing and bringing the pick to the right level simultaneously
Wonderwall - strumming pattern
Live Forever - F changes


Working on YTL’s with resistance band for posture :slight_smile:


Great log of your learning Shaun and allied to your 6 month video you’re doing great.

Shaun … please check yourself here.
Do not learn five patterns all at once.
This applies to everyone.
Learn one pattern fully, make music with it and it only for some time.
Improvise with it and it only for some time.
See here: First Steps in Blues Improvisation using Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern 1

For the reasoning see here:

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Roger that. I actually missed that part of the initial video where Justin advised to do that, make music and then learn more. Appreciate your input.


First thing, this log has been great for keeping a running draft of what’s been going on!


  • Technique/Scales - Worked through @Richard_close2u pentatonic progression, I’ve been working through this scale for ages now and it really paid off. 3’s and 4’s in a line were easy to pick up, onto to starting working on licks with it, bending really is alot more challenging (to do right) than I thought!

  • Chords - No more pain from my F Barre chord, warmup work prior to playing and focus on proper wrist position has this solved (I think)

  • Songs - Picking patterns really starting improving after slowing right down, a good reminder that neurons that fire together wire together, go slow to go fast etc. Switched out Wonderwall for Fast Car so I had some variation in my playing, made really quick progress with this song and was so satisfying because I remember trying it when I first started and giving up immediately!


Working through all the same stuff for the rest of the month. I’m going to slow down areas I’m having challenges with and focus on perfect technique as it’s helped me in a few areas this week.

Picked up Levi Clays guided guitar practice foundation book and have been working through those drills too. I’m in a slow period for work at the moment and have lots of free time while the kids are at school so I’m getting in a good 2-3 hours per day. I really enjoyed having the audio and tab of Levi’s drills to work through!

Final note, picked up an acoustic this week too. It’s a Martin GPC-11E, really liked the feel of it at the store and it sounds great, although way less forgiving that the electric! Also picked up a RAT pedal, for no reason other than it’s what Alex Turner used on the first 2 Arctic Monkeys albums and wanted some more distortion :slight_smile:


9/31/23 - Plan and notes for the week ahead

Fretboard Memorization

Finish of Sharps and Flats, been working on this for weeks now:


Position 1 of the minor pentatonic - 3s in a line, 4s in a line, note skipping
Improv to backing tracks, lick 3.


1 minute perfect changes for Barre Major/Minors


Good Riddance - working on the picking pattern
Boulevard of Broken Dreams - working on the strumming pattern, bar chords and dynamics for chorus
Johnny Cash - picking pattern, focusing on chord changing and bringing the pick to the right level simultaneously
Fast Car - picking pattern
Live Forever - F changes


Haven’t posted for a while, but I’ve been working hard :slight_smile: Decided to try and take a more long term view to my practice and playing after realizing that while I could play the chords of a song with the right strumming patterns, I couldn’t actually play with the song itself. This was quite eye opening and it dawned on me that in my quest to learn as much as I could as fast as I could, I lost focus on the music and the fact that I didn’t yet sound very good.

So I decided to start taking lessons. I am investing so much time and energy into the instrument that I felt like it was worth getting a second set of eyes and ears to give me some guidance. I found an online teacher I really gel well with and we went right back to the start and quickly banged through all of the “beginner” material and now I’m back where I started 2 months ago with much more solid fundamentals around the open position and strumming - but still got a long way to go :slight_smile:

So I’ve been working on:

Buying a new Strat - love it compared to the PRS, playability and feel is so much nicer
Open Chords
Various different strum patterns focus on “feels” rather than ups and downs
Playing Standing up
Playing without looking at the neck constantly
Playing with tracks

Here’s a video I took a few weeks back of me banging through some tunes in a way I never could prior.

Now I’m focused on:

  • Pentatonic phrasing with jam tracks
  • Bar chords (having to relearn my formation of the chord, getting the bar down first so the root is there and “beefy”
  • Songs that incorporate the Bm and F# Bar shapes (With or Without you, Hotel California, Peaceful Easy Feeling)
  • Playing the songs I love

I’ve been at this a year on December 19th, and given I have no musical background, I’m right where I wanted to be!


Sounding good, Shaun, glad you are feeling so satisfied. Keep on keeping on

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Some bar chord progress :slight_smile:

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Quick little update, been working through getting the 4 major bar chord shapes and actually using them! Two good songs that have been measuring sticks for this have been “Lookin out my back door by CCR” and “Brandy by Looking Glass”. The pushed strumming in Brandy plus all the different strumming nuances combined with the bar chords have really been tough going! HEre’s where I’m at.

I’ve also done a whole lot of work on pentatonic shapes, linking patterns, focusing around roots and adding some slides and bends which is coming along nicely :slight_smile:


Shaun, I really did enjoy your latest video with barre chord songs. So, if I understand correctly, you would recommend those 2 songs to start praticing our major barre chords ? Or you started with simpler ones ?

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Lookin’ pretty relaxed with those barre chords mate. You’ve obviously put the work in on em. Sounding good. :+1:
When you next add a couple of minor shapes, a crackin tune - and a great barre chord workout - is America’s “Sister Golden Hair”.

Cheers, Shane

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Looking nice and comfortable with those barres Shaun, and nice mini-barreing on the A shape ones. That was a nice performance :slight_smile:

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