#1
Hi.

Summer has started and I have three months before heading off to college. I decided to learn some guitar to hopefully carry on this talent for the rest of my life. I'm only 17 years old right now.

My brother is a guitar player, but I don't think he has had any formal lessons aside from a handful as a kid.

I'm a piano player. I started about a year and a half ago, originally self-taught. I started to take courses at my high school and eventually became decent. I had no musical background whatsoever, so I had to go through learning how to read notes (which is a breeze now). My teacher had a doctorate in music theory, so he pushed that on me like no tomorrow. I know more theory than I should... from how major/all the minor/chromatic/pentatonic/etc scales are made, modes, modulation, progressions, a bunch of stuff about chords, technique, etc.

Hopefully knowing these things will make playing other instruments easier...! To get a measure on my skill level on piano, I most recently learned this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdy47hIyhAU which took me around two weeks to get down smoothly.


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Now I have quite a few questions on guitar.... feel free to answer any of them if possible!

Should I start playing guitar? Its a beautiful instrument, but I don't want to give up all the work I put into playing piano.

I know there are different "styles" for the guitar. I love acoustic guitar, and I don't see how people can choose electric over the classical guitar. I want to learn how to play fingerstyle guitar, but is that too hard?

How long will it take for me to get decent?

Tabs or sheet music? I can read sheet music easily, for piano at least. Yesterday I looked up how to read tabs, and it literally took me less than a minute to start playing a simple melody.

Should I get a teacher? Money is tight in our family, but I know there is a guitar shop down the street where my brother got lessons over a decade ago. I could also just ask my brother how to play, but I'm gonna be afraid I'll be missing vital tidbits.

Where to begin? Books? Or just get a teacher? My brother has a great sounding acoustic already, not sure on the brand though.

And finally, the question I dread:

Am I too old to begin playing guitar? I'm seeing little kids playing crazy beautifully on YouTube and the like, and I feel like I past my prime learning time. I'm sure many members here are older than 17.

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Sorry for the load of questions, but taking a new instrument is probably gonna be a huge challenge. I really don't want to become one of those kids who say they play guitar because they can play a simple chord progression, I want to become GOOD at it! Also, I tried to play a small song for around 5 minutes and my finger tips are killing me. I hope callouses come fast...
#2
first of all, yes, you should start playing guitar and there is no reason you cant keep playing piano at the same time.

second, play what you enjoy listening to, playing and learning. its really up to you what you learn and play. When it comes to finger picking and classical guitar, im sure it cant be that hard. (i wouldnt know, sorry)

third, you can already play one instrument pretty well so picking up guitar should be a breeze. ive been playing for about 3/4years and i can hold my own. but you will improve incredibly quickly if you keep at it. you can get the basics down in a week then just keep going at it.

fourth, when it comes to tabs vs sheet music. i use tabs... its easier and quicker to learn and write down (imo). i can read sheet music i just chose not to. Also guitar tabs are alot easier to get your hands on (online) than sheet music.

getting a teacher depends on what style you want to play i guess. i wouldnt know about classical, but for general punk/blink 182 stuf you can pick that up pretty easily. though if you wish to learn particular techniques and theory than a teacher will probs help (wouldnt know once again, self taught). when in doubt consult the internet, youtube is an awesome learning tool.

begin by picking up a guitar... playing some songs you like... learning the basics... you know, like any other instrument, if you enjoy it, you will find a new way to learn and play etc. i dunno?

and, no your not to old to start playing! those kids on youtube have had parents that get them to play from the age of 3, so dont worry about that. i started when i was 15 so you'll be fine.

hahaha, and yes, your fingers will hurt for a while.
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#3
Should I start playing guitar? Its a beautiful instrument, but I don't want to give up all the work I put into playing piano.

Why not? Guitar is a beautiful instrument, and you can play two instruments, loads of people do it (Jack White, Steve Winwood, ...). Also, at my Music School about everyone who's playing guitar is also playing piano (except for me) it's even adviced by some teachers.

I know there are different "styles" for the guitar. I love acoustic guitar, and I don't see how people can choose electric over the classical guitar. I want to learn how to play fingerstyle guitar, but is that too hard?

Nope, since you've been playing piano your muscles are already used to move quickly, it'll help you to advance faster than you'd normally do.

How long will it take for me to get decent?

What do you call decent? But mostly it takes about a year before you really feel the instrument. Of course it also depends on how much you practice. But by the time you arrive at college you should be able to play pretty well.

Tabs or sheet music? I can read sheet music easily, for piano at least. Yesterday I looked up how to read tabs, and it literally took me less than a minute to start playing a simple melody.

Tabs are easier because they tell you where you should put your fingers. They also don't really tell you the rythm, so you'll train your ears a little. Sheet Music will help you develop an own technique because you'll plant your fingers where you feel it's right, and not where the tab tells you to put them. I usually use guitar Pro, it's the best of both worlds, you can see the tabs, and you can read the sheet music so you can addept the tabs to what you feel is right.

Should I get a teacher? Money is tight in our family, but I know there is a guitar shop down the street where my brother got lessons over a decade ago. I could also just ask my brother how to play, but I'm gonna be afraid I'll be missing vital tidbits.

Ask your brother or some friends to teach you the basics, if that doens't work out, look for a teacher, and if money is tight, make sure you get the most out of the time you pay for, so practice regularly!

Where to begin? Books? Or just get a teacher? My brother has a great sounding acoustic already, not sure on the brand though.

You get get some basic lessons here on UG, and just ask people you know who're playing guitar. Even if they aren't that good, every little bit of information helps.
I'm not sure about starter acoustics, ask your local music store or look around on the web and read some reviews so you're sure you don't buy a piece of crap.

And finally, the question I dread:

Am I too old to begin playing guitar? I'm seeing little kids playing crazy beautifully on YouTube and the like, and I feel like I past my prime learning time. I'm sure many members here are older than 17.

You're never too old to learn to play an instrument. Most people only start to play guitar around the age of 15-16.

If you've got any more questions, feel free to PM me.
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#4
Everything else has pretty much been answered already but no, you're not too old. Even I know people who have started at the age of 19-21 WITHOUT musical background and are pretty crazy on guitar. Sometimes it's just better not to start learning at an early age when you're impatient and don't know what you want from yourself.

Though, my music teacher said that the best learning age is under 16, but since you know a lot of theory and that stuff already, I don't think it will slow you down at all.
#5
Ive been playing for about 8 months by now, so im pretty new to the guitar, i had no musical background whatsoever and i didnt find it too hard to playing guitar.. Im also 21 and i started at 20, which isnt too late at all, if anything it gives you the advantage of being able to search for information and learn by yourself.. Within these 8 months id say im halfway decent, i can play way more stuff then your average chordprogression, a numbre of not too shabby solos and a few fingerstyle songs.. So with your background and knowlegde in music it should be a breeze for you, so get going!! Also i can recommend the epiphone DR-100 acoustic guitar, its a 100$ guitar but its perfect for beginnerd/ intermediates!
#6
Playing piano will not help you one bit with the technical aspects of playing the guitar, but obviously your musical knowledge is going to help you undserstand things a lot quicker.

If you want to play the guitar then do it, I have no idea why you feel the opinion of random strangers should have any influence on what you should or shouldn't do.
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#7
You can play the ****in' piano.
Guitar should be like a walk in the park..if you're interested in classical guitar tabbing won't get you anywhere,get a book that shows you the basic chord progressions and where they are located on the fretboard so you can play using chords.Easy,and since you know much about music theory,finding the scales from there should be easy for you.
#8
I am 14 and I learned how to play guitar by myself (no YouTube lessons or stuff like that) but now I can tell that a few lessons would be very important to me in the beginning because there are some mistakes I have to correct in my technique every time I realize I'm doing it wrong... So, to answer to those questions:

I think you should start playing guitar because there are lots of famous guitar players who also play piano and vice-versa. Take a look at Matthew Bellamy, Eddie Van Halen or even James Hetfield... Playing one instrument helps in playing the other...

Fingerstyle guitar is hard for some but you will be very good at that. (I saw your video on YouTube, that's why I'm saying this).

For a person with your technique on piano, maybe 6 months (or less) is enough for you to get decent, if you work hard of course.

For me I prefer tabs because honestly I think it's easier than reading sheet music. But there's another thing: Tabs indicate important moves in playing guitar like hammer ons, pull offs and other techniques.

About teachers, you don't need one... I think you should just buy a book about guitar for starters and learn from there...

About your age... Don't worry about that. Don't think about it at all.

Have fun when practising...
#9
i started when i was 16. and my dad started a few months ago...he's 50. so no, age doesnt matter.
#10
Quote by ihave12fingers
Should I start playing guitar? Its a beautiful instrument, but I don't want to give up all the work I put into playing piano.

If you want to learn guitar, by all means do it! In a lot of ways, playing both instruments is like being bilingual. You don't lose anything from learning a second language, and knowing either one helps you better understand the other, however indirectly.

Quote by ihave12fingers
I know there are different "styles" for the guitar. I love acoustic guitar, and I don't see how people can choose electric over the classical guitar. I want to learn how to play fingerstyle guitar, but is that too hard?

As far as acoustic vs. electric, it's all personal preference. I'm largely an acoustic player, but I just bought a beautiful Gretsch hollowbody -- great sound, and incredibly responsive to subtle dynamics. Not that I'd appreciate subtlety if it smacked me across the face...

IMHO, the hardest part of fingerstyle is just finger independence, and if you play piano you've probably already got that in spades. I do almost everything with my index/thumb and the odd clawhammer stroke; not the most sophisticated technique, but even that's enough to do some pretty tricky things.

Quote by ihave12fingers
How long will it take for me to get decent?

If you're persistent, maybe a couple months. If you're borderline obsessive, maybe a couple weeks. Having a solid musical background will really help; you already know the theory, so mostly it's just learning technique.

Quote by ihave12fingers
Tabs or sheet music? I can read sheet music easily, for piano at least. Yesterday I looked up how to read tabs, and it literally took me less than a minute to start playing a simple melody.

As I understand it, classical pieces typically use sheet music; the rest of us use tabs. I understand both in principle, but I can't sight-read either one. I usually cheat and look up chords, but I get most everything else by ear.

Quote by ihave12fingers
Should I get a teacher? Money is tight in our family, but I know there is a guitar shop down the street where my brother got lessons over a decade ago. I could also just ask my brother how to play, but I'm gonna be afraid I'll be missing vital tidbits.

Where to begin? Books? Or just get a teacher? My brother has a great sounding acoustic already, not sure on the brand though.

That's up to you, really. I learned a couple basic chords from my dad, and literally everything else is self-taught.

Quote by ihave12fingers
And finally, the question I dread:

Am I too old to begin playing guitar? I'm seeing little kids playing crazy beautifully on YouTube and the like, and I feel like I past my prime learning time. I'm sure many members here are older than 17.

I got my first guitar when I was 16. Didn't really learn to play until I was 18. I'm 20 now, and still getting the hang of it. You're always learning, always refining. It's not when you start or how fast you learn, but how far you're willing to go with it.

I also took up bass around nine months ago (feels like longer; it's my main instrument now), and ukulele maybe the last couple weeks. Sometime in between I started screwing around with keyboards. I only got serious about it in the last month or so, and with nothing but a good ear and a lot of free time, I've gone from completely incompetent to capable of faking my way through "Light My Fire". In other words, I've pretty much learned two instruments just since the semester got out.

And all this from the most musically-incompetent multi-instrumentalist you'll ever hope (not) to meet!

Quote by ihave12fingers
Sorry for the load of questions, but taking a new instrument is probably gonna be a huge challenge. I really don't want to become one of those kids who say they play guitar because they can play a simple chord progression, I want to become GOOD at it! Also, I tried to play a small song for around 5 minutes and my finger tips are killing me. I hope callouses come fast...

Hey, answering loads of questions is what we're here for!

It's really only a challenge if you make it one. You probably won't become a guitar god overnight -- well, not the first night, anyway. I woke up one morning and just found all of a sudden I could play, but only after a couple years, at least two different instruments, and countless hours -- nay, minutes -- of endless frustration. For a fast learner I'm pretty slow on the uptake, so you'll probably have a much easier time than me.

As far as calluses... well, I play every day so I have calluses on my calluses, but as I recall they come pretty fast. It just takes persistence and an inhuman tolerance for pain. (All right, you only need one. You've probably figured out which.)

Hope this answers everything, and good luck!
#11
Quote by ihave12fingers
,Should I start playing guitar? Its a beautiful instrument, but I don't want to give up all the work I put into playing piano.

I imagine you will not take your piano to college with you. You can easily bring along a guitar


Quote by ihave12fingers
I know there are different "styles" for the guitar. I love acoustic guitar, and I don't see how people can choose electric over the classical guitar. I want to learn how to play fingerstyle guitar, but is that too hard?

Fingerstyle may be harder than strumming, but I don't think it's "too hard" Just like everything else it takes practice.

Quote by ihave12fingers
How long will it take for me to get decent?

I always find it hard to answer this question. I think anywhere from 2-5 years, but my definition of decent may be different from everyone elses.

Quote by ihave12fingers
Tabs or sheet music? I can read sheet music easily, for piano at least. Yesterday I looked up how to read tabs, and it literally took me less than a minute to start playing a simple melody.

Both. Sounds like you can already read music and tabs are easy to pick up. So you are one step ahead already. Tabs generally don't give you timing so I think it's important to know how to read sheet music.

Quote by ihave12fingers
Should I get a teacher? Money is tight in our family, but I know there is a guitar shop down the street where my brother got lessons over a decade ago. I could also just ask my brother how to play, but I'm gonna be afraid I'll be missing vital tidbits.

If you can afford it I would definitely recommend getting a teacher. It will spead up your learning. When you are learning by yourself it's easy to develop bad habits/technique that will be hard to break later on.

Quote by ihave12fingers
Where to begin? Books? Or just get a teacher? My brother has a great sounding acoustic already, not sure on the brand though.

If you can't afford a teacher get the Hal Leonard guitar course (or any other widely published ones).

Quote by ihave12fingers
And finally, the question I dread:

Am I too old to begin playing guitar? I'm seeing little kids playing crazy beautifully on YouTube and the like, and I feel like I past my prime learning time. I'm sure many members here are older than 17.

Heck no. You've got your whole life ahead of you. That's 60+ years of practice.
#12
Thanks for the replies and encouragement guys! Luckily I found an old "rhythm guitar" book in our house and I have been using it to try to play chords. So far I only got A major and D major chords down, but I'm still working on transitioning between the two. I can only practice at minutes at a time because my fingers are killing me already.

Also, my brother has a few friends that can give me lessons for free or for cheap, which is a plus. He has also been helping me on my technique on how to hold the chords, etc.
#13
If you can only play for a few minutes, either you're pressing down wayyyy too hard on the strings (which will also make them go sharp), or your guitar has really fat strings and a really high action.

Either that, or I've lost sight of what it is like to be a beginner.

To make it a little more interesting, try looking up a really simple song that all the beginning guitarists learn that is fun and recognisable - like smoke on the water or something.

If your intent is to play Classical, it is essential that you start now using proper right hand fingering. That means, in general, to alternate between index and middle fingers to pluck the melody with, and using your thumb for the bass strings (4,5,6). As are only just starting, you will want to also use 'rest stroke' (I think it's called apoyondo?) - This means that you puch through the string and rest your finger on the next string. For example, to pluck the top E string, you would begin by resting your index finger on that string, and pushing through to land on the B string without sounding the B string. Songs you learn early on will not require the use of the thumb usually, so rest it on the low E string. As you progress, you may need to use the thumb to play a bassline to accompany the melody, as you would use the left hand on piano.
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