Two year Justi-versary. I'm still skill challenged

Welp, I’ve reached my two year JG anniversary this month.

I’m improving slowly. But here are some things I notice:

-My two hands are starting to get better at doing the correct things at the same time. BUT I still pick the wrong strings a bunch (if I’m not looking). Or buzz or mute notes in a riff or lick. I think this comes down to having delicate, sensitive fingertips (even with calluses) and still not much strength or reach. I just get buzz or mute when I can’t get the fingertips fully in the right place with the right force. But at least I am getting the finger down at the same time I am trying to pick more often than I used to.

-I’m still having to consciously straighten my wrist. It just doesn’t feel natural to play with a straight wrist because of small hands/short fingers- I don’t have a lot of reach and I can’t exert much perpendicular force to the fretboard. My natural instinct is to bend my wrist down and get as much of my hand under my fingers to give them leverage. When I try to force a straight wrist, I get buzzes and mutes. The battle continues. Yes I play with the neck tilted up.

-I am still having a time finding the right strings when I am not looking directly at the picking hand. This may be partly because I rotate guitars every few weeks between short scale acoustic and full scale electric (I have two electrics with slightly different string spacing).

-I find I get irritated when I can’t find a strumming pattern that fits a song I am playing. I’ll want to get into a feel-good groove, and sometimes I find a pattern that feels good but it won’t sound quite right for the song, or what might sound right doesn’t feel right.

-I admit I still haven’t learned very many songs. I still struggle with even getting any interest in any songs to play unless its specifically mentioned in a lesson, used to develop a technique. I’ll be honest, its because I can’t play anything very well, and I just don’t want to play any songs badly. It’s de-motivating.

-Palm muting is just eh right now. Its fine when I’m doing power chords loudly. But trying it on the Enter Sandman riff (went back to that one over a year later) and finding it hard to do consistently.

-I still feel like most things I play, be it a strumming song or (definitely) a riff or single note melody, sound bad. Just not good. Buzzed notes, muted notes, I still make tons of mistakes. Nothing sounds very good, at all. I’m still pretty clumsy. But as I stated above, I can see that I am just starting to see my two hands doing the right things at the same time. I’m just not doing anything very well. Strumming is better than picking, I’m getting fairly decent at strumming and chording a song from start to finish.

I am currently in Grade 3 Module 18 learning the Lickin Riff exercise. It is actually easier than I thought when I first heard it in the beginning of the lesson, so that goes to show I have improved a bit over the past year because the Greensleeves song that I started on a few months ago was seemingly harder to do than this.

Anyway, I’ll keep on keepin on. Slowly but surely. I still read tons of threads on here even if they have nothing to do with my personal struggles. I love all the new gear I’m seeing being acquired by others, and glad folks are keeping the convos going strong. I’m watching all the learning and growing going on everyday. I’m still enjoying the lessons, I still go back and go over previous lessons all the time. I still use the app and play along to songs. I use Moises to make guitar-less versions of songs for the future. The elements for productive practice (one minute changes, finger exercises, small time blocks, etc) are indispensable and will keep my practices successful well into the future. I love the community, and I am so happy to have found Justin and everyone here.

Thanks to Justin, to everyone!

24 Likes

Nothing unusual there I think, I’m 2.5years ish on here and if I hadnt played before I would probably be in a similar position, I think I am a little further on but not a whole lot.

A lot depends on how much time and practice you put in and as functioning adults we’ve other pressures on our waking hours.

5 Likes

Thanks Rob. I’m glad to know that. Yep, you’re spot on about practice. Time is the big variable.

2 Likes

I’m happy to see some things seem to be improving. I can’t do palm muting either and my power chords are still iffy, not to mention my F chord is acting up again. I’m nearing the end of Grade 2 and I can tell you, I’m going to be jumping between modules 12 and 13 for some months yet.

I love it here, too. glad you’re still enjoying yourself.

6 Likes

Stacy, you’re not alone! I’m about 2.5 continuous years into this journey, I think. I too struggle with: buzzing notes (a particular frustration is C major when my hands are tired!), picking the wrong strings (both looking and not!), strumming without a metronome, palm muting, undesired muted strings on barre chords at times…I’m sure I could come up with more. And, I can’t play fast. I don’t have too much trouble learning songs, though I don’t know a whole lot of them (I’d guess I have 12-15 that I can play through, but would have to review half of them before playing), but I don’t play any of them well enough that I’d want anyone else to hear! Often I feel I’ve hit a plateau in my development.

That said: I know I’m getting better, because all those nasty things happen less frequently than before. I can play much longer than even a couple months ago, and sometimes get in two full practices in a day. It seems I learn new things more quickly. I listen to music differently than I did a year ago. And I love playing now - at first it practice mostly felt like a novelty.

I propose that you, Rebecca @LunaRocket, I, and others here like us are actually excellent examples of advancing beginner guitar players. :smiling_face:

11 Likes

Yup.

Two years ago, you wouldn’t have even known what all that meant.

10 Likes

Stacy - Life’s happenings mean I can’t get my head around a proper reply right now, but just know that reading this first thing this morning inspired me to pick up my guitar for the first time this week. It was only a 10 minute muck around but I answered a few of the points you raised.

Can I suggest that you read your own post as if it was someone else’s. You might find yourself surprised at how much you actually know about playing and learning guitar. You will already know how to go about finding the answers.

9 Likes

Hey Stacy,

A hearty congratulations on your 2 year anniversary. It is a considerable milestone. You are now at a stage where most who pick up a guitar never get to.
You seem very aware, and switched on to what your weaknesses and challenges are. This is a great attribute to have. It means you are more than half way to overcoming them. (More people than you think are completely unaware of their weaknesses).

Importantly though, don’t forget to take at least a few minutes to think about how far you’ve come in 2 years; what you’ve learnt, how you have developed, the fun you’ve had ( and the nutters you’ve met in this great community :sweat_smile:).

Keep at it, and keep reaching out here. As you know, there are many here willing to help. We all need it.

All the best,
Cheer, Shane

7 Likes

Congrats on 2 years Stacy!

If we could all pick the right strings, at speed… well, we could play anything! That’s guitar. Keep practicing, and learn songs, and you’ll keep getting better. We’re all learners here.

Interesting what you mention about finger and hand positioning. Fortunately for me, I have strong hands, but unfortunately, comparatively short and inflexible fingers. They’re around the same length as my wife’s (who is a lot shorter than me). I have put lots of time into hand stretching, but still struggle with stretchy fretting. So I’ve started looking into short scale guitars like the Mustang or Jaguar. The frets are closer together than the longer fender & Ibanez stuff. Might be worth you investigating.

5 Likes

We all take very different journeys Stacy, with different successes and frustrations. The overarching thing is that you’re still progressing and above all still having fun.
Very well done and kudos to you for getting to your 2 year milestone, it’s not insignificant at all!

5 Likes

Stacy, thank you for sharing all of these observations, thoughts, and feelings.

I’m in no position to offer you guidance, being only 8 months along myself, but I can tell you what one person climbing the mountain from below you gets from your report - admiration and inspiration. As I read, many times I said, “Oh, yeah. Me, too.” And also, “Yes! Good for you! Way to stay with it!”

I admire that you’re aware of the aspects of your playing that need work while you also recognize the many ways that you’ve improved and continue to do so. For me, that’s what keeps it “real” - knowing that it is and always will be a work in progress but seeing that it really does continue to move forward. Maybe not as quickly as we’d have liked, but it is happening.

I fully relate to your struggle to find songs to play. I can’t say I’ve found a perfect solution, but for the moment I’ve committed to trying to “master” one Justin-lesson song and also found another song with many lessons on YT that I can just enjoy practicing when I want that treat. It took some time to identify a song for that purpose, but for a couple of weeks now it’s kept my enthusiasm high. We’ll see how long it delivers.

Your sharing this is a huge part of why I appreciate this community. Thank you.

5 Likes

@LunaRocket My F chord is too! And my C chord, and even sometimes D! Haha. Yes I agree, the back half of Gr 2 and the first couple of modules of Gr 3 are taking/will take a lot of time. But that’s fine! I’m happy to put in the hours.

@judi Yes, the C chord is particularly buzzy for me too. I can’t play fast either. We’re in the same boat! And same, I can tell I am getting better too. It’s always great to be amongst others who feel the same pains at the same times.

@Jamolay Great point! When you put it that way, I’ve really come a long way. You always have great insight, thank you!

@BurnsRhythm Wow, really? Awesome! I’m glad to have been an influence on your practice this week. Yes, you’re right, I do have a lot more knowledge than I ever did before, which is easily forgotten.

@sclay Thanks! I guess you’re right, and though sometimes I have wanted to quit, I just have too much curiosity to do that. And it’s been really fun doing all the new techniques I ever knew were a thing. Thanks for the encouragement.

@jkahn Thanks! I know right, and ‘play anything’ is indeed the goal. I should investigate getting another guitar, you say?! You heard him, everybody! Don’t have to tell me twice! I did seriously consider it, and prioritized the acoustic side, getting the GS Mini, and it did make a big difference. I no longer dread practicing acoustic. Wait a minute…dread…dreadnought…hmmm. Interesting. :laughing: Seriously though, I might add a short scale electric one day.

@Notter Thank you! Upwards and onwards!

@grabhorn Wow thank you! I agree, and it took a while to really actually accept that it will be a loooong journey. Longer than I realized- not because I think it should be easy, but because I have already played an instrument for many many years. I thought it might be easier for ME. Nope. While I do already have some theory knowledge it didn’t help with the practical technique part at all! What a realization that was. Its all good tho! Yep, keep up that enthusiasm, its really key, and the secret to longevity is having the excitement behind it.

7 Likes

Artax, haven’t read it all. Keep going. Practice slowly and think exactly about what you’re doing . I’m not great by any means and have been playing about 12 years. Enjoy it. Eventually you’ll break through and be able to do things beyond your expectations. Not others but yours. Well done. Great stuff.

2 Likes

Happy anniversary Stacy. Slow and steady wins the day, you know my mantra “Not a …”
Well done and thank you as well.
:sunglasses:

2 Likes

Happy Anniversary :smiley:

I only got my electric guitar after learning accoustic so my palm muting sucks. I can appreciate your struggle, I’ve been trying to learn basket case but can’t do the thing when you mute sometimes and not others.

Eitherway, sounds like you’re killing it

2 Likes

Hi Stacy, Congrants on the 2 year milestone. I can’t say anymore than has been said already, that and I’m not as far as you are so can’t comment on things I haven’t tried lol.

Just keep going girl, keep going.!

R

:metal:

2 Likes

Congratulations on 2 years, I’m sure many people give up well before then. Don’t be disheartened. Maybe take time to make a note of the things you can do that you couldn’t do 2 years ago. Listen to great music you love and just take it easy. It’s not a race after all.
I’m only weeks into my journey but have had some low moments and doubts too.

2 Likes

Hello everyone,

I embarked on my guitar journey with JustinGuitar in the spring of 2022 and have now reached the end of Grade 2. I’ll need to linger here for a bit longer, even though I’m eager to advance to Grade 3. However, I’m still grappling with several challenges, such as palm muting, “darling” F-chord :grimacing:, strumming patterns, and more. At times, chord transitions without looking at the fretboard go smoothly, especially with slower tunes. Yet, accurately picking or strumming the correct strings without looking remains a formidable task. Singing while playing simultaneously only works for me with some simple Mani Matter songs.

My song repertoire is modest, but I can play a few tunes and truly relish jamming along with the songs app. Nonetheless, my strumming doesn’t quite sound right just yet. I’m hopeful that with the Strumming SOS course, I’ll get it under wraps. My next goal is to record some songs before diving into Strumming SOS Grade 2.

To my surprise, I’ve found music theory to be enjoyable as well. It’s about time, after dodging it for the last 50 years :wink:

Overall, my progress is steady but slow, and I constantly remind myself to be patient. Deciding to learn guitar was definitely the right choice.

Since my time for practice and playing is limited (I haven’t retired yet—still a few years away :wink:), I haven’t been very active in the forum. However, it’s motivating to see that others face similar struggles.

Goodbye for now, and see you around :wave:t2:

5 Likes

Sounds exactly like I could’ve written that! I feel a lot better that so many others are in pretty much the same place in skill building at the same time milestone. I know we’re not supposed to compare ourselves to others, but I personally like hearing what others are dealing with at 2 years. Thanks for sharing. I know we all realize patience is key. And finding the fun too.

Hi Stacy, we all miss-hit strings occasionally, no big deal. I have followed Justin since covid hit and been through similar issues. My song repertoire is limited too as I have been spending most of my time in the last 12months focusing on pentatonic positions and triads. I find playing riffs more interesting. I still regularly run through the songs that I do know in an effort to keep the “chord” muscle memory. I find it helps also to regularly practice the harder open chord changes slowly eg D to C chord, C to G and G to Am. These are also a good for barre chord practice as the changes are easier than using open versions. I try to remember to go slowly and build up speed. “Perfect practice makes “perfect “ permanent“.

From reading your comments re buzz/muted notes, lacking strength and applying the right “force” , assuming your posture and finger placement is reasonable, the next thing to check is your guitar setup.
Lighter strings and a lower action will make it easier to play with a lighter touch, and results in a more “forgiving “ instrument.

Many guitars are initially set up with high actions and poorly cut nuts. Both are easy to check and if necessary, easy to fix.
The difference in playability between a poorly setup guitar and a well setup guitar is often amazing. If you’re unable to do this yourself, it’s not expensive to get this done professionally, check your local music store.

Try placing your thumb a little lower on the neck. It allows you to reach further with your fingers without over bending your wrist.

Cheers and happy playing
Dave

1 Like