Print Story I haven't given up the guitar yet
By komet (Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 09:57:36 AM EST) (all tags)
Well I have had the guitar for 5 weeks now and for some reason I am still not as good as Joe Satriani. I feel cheated.

Actually I am fucking glad that I learnt the piano as a kid and thus learnt about patience, endless practice, and slow-but-sure progress. It takes me about 6 seconds to finger a barre chord, down from about 20 seconds 2 weeks ago. I suppose this is progress. I expect to be down to half a second by year's end, and will then be able to actually play a song.

My strumming sounds crap, especially the upstroke. And how do you avoid strumming the 5th and 6th strings of a D major chord on the upstroke?

It has become clear to me that the piano kept so much detail hidden and abstracted away, musical details that only now become clear to me. Like tuning. I got a Korg tuner, but soon switched back to tuning by ear - definitely better. With the piano, a tuner is someone you phone up (you leave a message with his mum, with whom he lives at the age of 55) who then shows up a week later smelling faintly of stale beer, carrying a tattered leather case who says "you poor girl" to the piano and orders you to bugger off out of the room for an hour after you offer him tea and a digestive biscuit. Then you play the freshly tuned piano and wonder how the hell you got by before he came round.

But I digress. The piano also never buzzes or clicks when you do something wrong. And the keys are spaced out equally. And there are no harmonics. It's a brilliant instrument to play, but I feel that the guitar is showing me things about acoustics I never fully appreciated before.

I had long dismissed as a pile of dot com shite, but I have to admit that is actually not bad at all if you read around the advertising. The Beginner's Lessons are easy without being patronising, something that seems to be quite rare.

Since I got the guitar I have also been playing the piano more. I neglected music for years, but it is now clear to me that it does me good (if I were USian I would now be using phrases such as "mental health"). If it were economically possible, which it isn't, I can imagine getting out of IT and only playing music all day. Sadly this isn't possible: I'm not good enough and in any case I don't want to play music for money. I strongly believe that the best things in life are free.

Ah yes, when's the MFC deadline? I seem to have lost track.

Also, I went to Greece last week. Perhaps I will tell you about that another time.

< Why am I here? | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
I haven't given up the guitar yet | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
D Chords by cam (4.00 / 2) #1 Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 10:51:52 AM EST
Hang your thumb over the top two strings (E and A) without holding them down proper. This will deaden them. For bonus points hold your thumb down on the F# note on the E string and push it down hard enough to ring while your thumb overhang deadens the A string.

This is a great power chord which AC/DC uses to death.

The rest of your problems can be solved by volume, distortion, echo and a wah-pedal.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

Not to be a pedant by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 4) #2 Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 11:42:20 AM EST
But that's not actually a power chord as it's still got the 3d in it, it's just an inversion (and a real manly voicing) of D major. But yeah, I think that's used quite a bit on Highway to Hell. I have a hard time doing it what with my little girly hands and whatnot.

rere: Muting (or simply not hitting with the pick) unwanted strings when playing chords is what really separates the men from the heavy metal loooosers in this guitar business.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob
[ Parent ]

You are a pedant by cam (4.00 / 5) #3 Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:28:25 PM EST
if AC/DC plays it - IT IS A POWER CHORD. Fox News and God dictate it as such.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

And of course you're not meaning to say that all by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Oct 07, 2006 at 04:18:28 AM EST
Heavy Metal guitarists are loosers. Because that's just piddly posh. I do agree that control over the picking hand is just as, if not more important than dexterity with the fretting hand. Like you, I can't stress that enough either, Bob. Dead on accurancy with a pick takes a lot of practice and can make playing a lot more fun. Makes listening more fun too.

[ Parent ]

hm by komet (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:30:14 PM EST
volume, distortion, echo and wah can make me finger barre chords faster? I should try those out, then.

<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.
[ Parent ]

Imagine *my* disappointment then! by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #5 Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 12:28:09 AM EST
I've been playing for 18 years and I can't play like Satriani either!

Strumming will come to you in time.  If your hands are too small to deaden the 5th and 6th strings (like mine), you're just going to have to get better at aiming at the strings.  This will come, in time.  I found that pushing the fleshy part of my hand (closer to the wrist on the pinkie finger side) into the bridge helped a lot with respect to remembering where the strings are.

Holding a major or a minor barre chord and then moving it up and down the neck is very good practice for the fingers (strength and position wise), and will actually allow you to get some semblance of a tune together.  Even just playing root notes is good, try this (Wasted by Def Leppard when they still rocked)
Palm mute on each note on the E string:


Or for string skipping practice try:


Re: tuning - I find that my tuner is better than I am.  The trick is to firstly give it a good signal to work with - I favour a loud but not that heavily overdriven signal.  Unless your ear is concert standard, when you start playing along to stuff it'll sound rubbish.

House of the Rising Sun is such a cliche because it's a good training song to learn (Amin, C, D, F, E).  Stand By Me is also another good one.  And you can't go wrong with any AC/DC.

When I was 18 I had 2 passions - guitar and coding.   Actually I had 2 more, but this isn't a girls and weed diary so we'll disregard that for now.  Fifteen years on, I'm still playing guitar and coding, one for money and one for fun.  No prozes for guessing which I enjoy more...

Keep on rocking!

buzzing and clicking by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #7 Sat Oct 07, 2006 at 04:28:09 AM EST
Don't think of buzzing and clicking as things done wrong. Sometimes b and c can really work for you. Sometimes if you just keep playing it sounds like it should be there. Or if you do it on purpose it can sound really cool. If it bugs you when it happens, well, just keep at it. The satisfaction of conquering a guitar riff and making it sound just that certain way you hear it in your head, is an amazing feeling. Keep at it. Don't pressure yourself. And keep an open mind. Every now and then, I come across a chord I haven't used before and I say WTF is this? I'm supposed to do what with my fingers? So I either practice until I have it, find a creative way to play it so my hand has an easier time with it, or just plain cheat and play something that sounds really close. I'm not interested in being a perfect textbook player, and that helps me have a lot more fun with it.

I haven't given up the guitar yet | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback