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Advice for a newbie

Posted: Tue May 31, 2005 6:58 am
by No You Are
After years of watching various people rock out and thinking "wow, that would be fun", I have decided to take the big leap and learn how to play the guitar.

Just wondering if anyone had any good tips/advice for a newbie trying to cut out a slice of the rock 'n roll with his six-string knife. A good friend of mine (who is adept at rocking) is showing me all the chords 'n stuff, but I figured the more help the better.

Any good practice drills that have worked for y'all?
Any good songs that are fun to play but easy enough for a beginner?
Any magical potions that can make me Stevie Ray Vaughn overnight?

Posted: Tue May 31, 2005 11:17 am
by Brantley
My best advice: Keep the guitar out, and about. The easier it is to merely pick up and play, the more apt you will be to doing so.

Posted: Tue May 31, 2005 1:04 pm
by empirelucas
There are a number of easy songs, but my favorite beginner is "Knockin on Heaven's Door"

And Brantley is right, keep it somewhere visible.

Posted: Tue May 31, 2005 1:48 pm
by Betty Felon
I don't play the guitar, but I when I was learning to play the piano I absolutely hated the easy songs. Who the hell wants to play some stripped down repetative big note la cucaracha or whatever? barf city.

I picked a tough, but readable, song, that I loved to hear and knew how exactly how it was supposed to sound, and learned it bar by painstaking bar until I could play it. One Bohemian Rhapsody later and you are on your way.

And of course, learn to play your scales as fast as your possibly can.

I don't know how much of that applies to guitar, but for piano its way more enjoyable than Easy for Beginner Disney's Greatest Hits.

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:20 am
by Jeroen
empirelucas wrote:There are a number of easy songs, but my favorite beginner is "Knockin on Heaven's Door"

And Brantley is right, keep it somewhere visible.


Knocking on heavens door was my first as well and Losing my religion...

just make sure it's fun. The moment you begin to like it is the moment that you can't stop.

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:59 am
by Liesbeth
when I was learning piano chords, I had a lot of fun with a complete Beatles song book my brother had. Was a bit discouraged at first by the amount of different chords, until I found that mostly I just needed to shift one finger.

do I know my piano chords well now? no.
but do I have fun playing? yep.

as for guitar, surely fingers aren't meant to be bent in all those weird ways?
good luck and have fun!

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:04 am
by No You Are
I keep the guitar in my living room, and you are right about picking it up.

Sometimes I'll even squeeze in 10 minutes or so before heading to work, or if I come home for lunch.

I figure lots and lots of practice HAS to make up for lack of talent, right?

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:53 am
by Brantley
Oh, also: www.guitarnoise.com

Which has tabs + tutorials on many begginer songs, including Losing My Religion and Knocking on Heaven's Door.

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 10:00 am
by sour29
I agree. Force yourself to learn playing songs you like. If you take any lessons or pick up any beginners guitar book, you'll have to learn nothing but boring traditionals and uninteresting hymns. Once you start to get the hang of it, go to tutorial websites and pick up scales. I never did that, and it's really holding my guitar playing back. But you have to keep yourself interested, and the only way to do that is to play songs that interest you.

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 12:38 pm
by John
SING! If you sing along while you're playing the guitar, you're teaching yourself how to do both things at once. Lots of people can play guitar, but if you can sing and play guitar, (and don't worry about whether your voice is good at this point), you will enjoy it so much more, and you'll enjoy being in a band so much more too, even if you're only singing harmonies. Sing.

Posted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 11:18 pm
by Leroy
one thing that really help for me was that i started playing "new york city" by they might be giants, (a three chord wonder)
and then after i got that down i learned to play "hold on hope" by guided by voices (one that uses only bar chords)
both regular chords and bar chords are essential for real rocking. and play all the time. i makes your fingers hurt so good!

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 6:21 am
by grant
1. Jimi Hendrix used to sleep with his guitar. I've done it too. Always there for chords in the night.

2. Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen used to sit out on their porch and play on Sunday mornings while talking to each other and the people coming out of church -- Keen says it trained them both to be able to talk while playing, which is just as hard as singing while playing, if not harder. I like doing "da-da-das" a lot.

3. Totally pedantic note: that They Might Be Giants song is actually a cover. The original's on the special features of the TMBG documentary Gigantic, and is well worth a listen. It's by the band Cub, and is a near-perfect pop song. Most near-perfect pop songs would be similarly easy to learn -- take a crack at "Downtown" by Petula Clark.

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 7:17 am
by No You Are
And the good tips keep pouring in... thanks a lot!!

I've been trying to sing along with my tunes, and it does make it more fun. My own rock star fantasy camp. The only problem I had was when the Humane Society broke down my door because someone called and thought I was punching a cat.

I'm excited about the TMBG/Cub song... It's songs like that that make it fun to learn... you know, stuff that not everybody knows how to play. Doesn't matter if it is easy or not.

If anyone else has some good "three chord wonders", lemme know.

And again, thanks to all. Nice to have a helpful group for the eventual "MY FINGERS HURT AND I CAN'T PLAY THAT F'n F" post.

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:19 am
by sour29
Learn Nora. Two chords.

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:12 am
by No You Are
Nora?!?! SWEEEEET!! How a song that is so good can be so two-chorded is beyond me.

This kid has a new project.

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 6:42 pm
by Marty
I just used to stand in front of the mirror with my axe and practice my "Rock faces". It wasn't long before the groupies started to form a line outside my parents basement.

Seriously, Singing is a good way to develop your ear as well. Beware of online guitar tablature. It's a good way to get started, but keep in mind they're not always right.

Oh.. and don't use the word "Axe" when describing your instrument.

Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 2:25 am
by Jeroen
Marty wrote:Oh.. and don't use the word "Axe" when describing your instrument.


ahh, why not? I have an accoustic so for me it doesn´t work anyway, but I love the word... axe.
I was playing my axe last night and let me tell you, Jimi Hendrix has nothing on me
see, now that´s just beautiful!

Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 6:40 am
by Moni
Also, don't just rely on existing tabs when you learn songs, try to figure them out yourself - very good ear training if you do it on a regular basis.

Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 12:41 pm
by Liesbeth
My advice would be if you are trying to figure out a song, and by chance hit a chord that you didn't mean to, but sounds good, just stick with it for a bit and see how you like it. Before you know it you might actually be writing something, however rudimentally - which in my humble opinion is more fun than playing someone else's song. There's a real buzz in creating something yourself, that I didn't know until I started doing it.

Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 12:51 pm
by Karousme
I learned by figuring out my favorite songs. I started to realize that each song is often comprised of a handful of tricks and chords. Soon you'll start to see these tricks happening in different songs, and it starts coming full circle. Then, keep adding the tricks and chords, and start rearranging them in your own way. If it sounds interesting or impossible to you, try to learn it.