Time for an introduction - hello, Keith from Manitoba here

Hello all, Keith here, I’m a 64 yr old beginner from wintery Manitoba, Canada. I’m newly retired and just over a year into my guitar endeavour. And I’m tucked away in the woods on private and rather remote piece of property, so when I decided to embark on this journey, it was just me and Justin. I was all over the map trying to decide how to get started but I chose Justin not just because his beginner course seemed to be really well thought out, but also because Justin chose to go the Nitsuj route. I thought it was pretty cool that he was willing to “feel the pain” himself, so to speak. It took me about 8-9 months to get the beginner 1 course chords down then become fast enough to make a song sound somewhat like it’s supposed to. At the 10 month mark I felt that I was making enough progress to reward myself with a small amp & chord app which allows me to play along to whatever I am capable of playing. I actually spend as much time searching for new songs than I do practicing but in my mind its worth it, as I can now play along to a couple of dozen songs and I’m getting better every day. BUT, here’s the thing … although I’m having plenty of fun and have a semi structured wish list for what I want to learn next (more chords/power chords/finger picking) I’m wondering about how dependant I’m becoming on the new amp/app combo. I would love to hear how and what you all think on this subject. Many of you are likely using Justin’s app, which I am sure is similar to what I’m using. Also, (and this is for all of my fellow “old dawgs” out there) … do you find yourself wondering what things you should concentrate on more or what less. It goes without saying that the music/guitar journey is immense and some of us older types often think in terms of “sooner rather than later” for obvious reasons. Thanks all, it’s great to know that there are so many of you on the same journey and experiencing the same bumps along the way.


Hello Keith and and very warm welcome to the Community.

Another old dog to join the pack. :slight_smile:
Woof woof.

Oh boy - that is cool and wonderful.

I’m not quite sure what your concern is.
One of the most valuable ways to improve at playing songs is to play along with songs. Does your app give you that type of immersive experience? Do you ever play along with the actual, original artists’ songs?
What else does your app do that you worry is causing a reliance on it? Does it show the chords on screen one after another after another and you are not learning how to play the songs without its prompting? If yes to that, see this reply I gave recently to a fellow guitarist struggling to remember songs: Trouble Memorizing Songs - #4 by Richard_close2u
Not forgetting tips from @LievenDV here: Tip: Memorizing songs

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher

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Hey Keith, welcome to the community, really exciting to read about the progress you are making.

Being able to play along to whatever song you are learning is a great thing to do. It took me a fair while before I could do that. When I do it sure makes a difference in sounding closer to the original.

I’m not sure an amp is necessary for that, I typically do it with headphones and keep one ear out in the open to hear my guitar better.

When I bought my first acoustic amp, I got a small / cheap one and ended up hardly using it because the sound just wasn’t that good. About a year later I visited a friend who had a much better quality acoustic amp and I was blown away by how much better it sounded so got myself the same model as his and am still thrilled with it.

Mostly I play unplugged as it’s just plain easy to do for me and most of my public playing is also unplugged, but there are times when I do play open mics and such with an amp / pa system. For those performances I play as much as possible with an amp leading up to the performance because it does sound different through the amp.

Yes I’m turning 64 soon… For me it’s having fun while I’m playing. Learning to play from memory helps a lot with that, now I can grab my guitar stool, find a quiet place and just play and sing for the love of it. Often times, before I know it, an hour has gone by and my mood is always better for it.


Hi Keith, Welcome to the community.
Re: “some of us older types often think in terms of “sooner rather than later” for obvious reasons.”
I’ll be 70 next month. I’m not going to have a second career as a musician. However, I will become as good as I can be and derive as much pleasure from playing as I can until I either die or can no longer play for some reason. Since I can’t infuse more talent to speed things up, I can only focus on developing skills and having fun. To this end, I mix using JG course-ware to continually develop my skill set with learning songs to apply those skills to.

There are a number of ways to learn songs and play along and they expand with more experience. A play-along app is a good learning tool to develop speed and rhythm. You can start slow with a simple strumming pattern and work your way up to speed and more involved strumming. What is often missing is learning of how to play the original song and they don’t help much in trying to memorize a song. Justin has an extensive set of song instructional videos and of course there many available around the internet. You can learn a song and create your own song book, either paper or electronic, and use that to play along with an original recording: YT, mp3, whatever. For me, the act of having to write down the chords, lyrics and strum pattern(s) helps to cement the song in my head. I have to learn the structure of the song in order to write it down. I can start simple and update how I play it as my skills and understanding of the song improve. Justin’s instructions for most songs are oriented this way. He shows a relatively simple approach and adds advanced info. Typically by the time I’ve learned the song, written it down, and played it a few times, its mostly memorized as a side effect. If it’s a complicated song or if I don’t play it for a while, I can use my song book notes to refresh my memory.

I don’t know the specifics of your setup, but here’s mine and how I playing along to songs.
My electric is plugged into my Katana 50 amp. I’m PC oriented so the PC’s headphone output is connected to the amp’s AUX In. Whatever sound is coming out of the PC comes out of the amp (or the headphones connected to the amp). This might be a JG lesson, the play-along app, an mp3. a YT video, GuitarPro, etc. If I want to play acoustic, nothing changes except I typically don’t use the headphones. My song book notes are electronic so I can display them on the PC’s monitor if needed. Since I don’t have anyone to play along with yet, I can also use my amp, or an AI, to record a part, e.g. an acoustic rhythm part, and then play along with my recording either with the electric or the acoustic. A looper can aid in this as well.
HTH. Enjoy the journey.


Welcome to the Community, Keith.

Sounds like you are doing great. To get more feedback on that I suggest simple recording of you playing, a phone is all that is needed, and share in #record-yourself-progress-performance:audio-video-of-you-playing

Then I’d suggest continue through till you have completed Grades 1, 2, & 3, following the course module by module. Once you have reached that point then you can reflect and decide on where you’d like to focus as you continue.

Nothing wrong with playing along to apps. You may also want to develop further to the point where you can play a song from memory without any backing. How important that is would depend on your aspirations.

Meanwhile keep on keeping on, having fun making music.

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Thanks much Richard, Tony, David 2oskr … great feedback and something to take from each one of you. I’m having fun right now which is most important. Yes, I playing with songs by actual artists, and expanding my musical tastes along the way. If its a good song, and within my capabilities, I’m in! Using the positive grid spark … without going on and on, it’s a great little tool with a lot of flexibility. However, it is time to move on with the lessons now that I have reached the point where I wanted to be at this stage of the journey. And as David says, spend more time working on songs from memory, and maybe even give the singing thing a shot (yikes) … and pull it all together so to speak, and perhaps even have a go at a video. Onward to beginner lessons 2 & 3. It’s time! Thanks again for weighing in, much appreciated.

Hello Keith and welcome. :slight_smile:

I started using the app but like you I was just playing along with it and I felt I was not learning the songs. I’m sure the app is great for a lot of people but it’s not for me. I bought the books and I learn that way. If I get stuck, if Justin has one, I’ll pop on over and watch one of his video’s to help me.

Hi Keith, welcome. Good you are having fun learning how to play the guitar. I don’t use a play along app but I found useful to play along with the original record specially when getting familiar with the song.