#1
First of all, a big thank you for everyone who participates in this thread.

I have been playing the guitar for a couple of months now, nothing too serious. I just learned some chords and a little strumming. I've come to realize, from my point of view, that in order to really learn the guitar, I need to really understand why I'm doing what I'm doing. In other words, I got tired of just learning songs of of youtube since all I was doing was mimicking the " teacher ". I would actually love to understand why I'm playing this chord, why is my hand located in this part of the fretboard and in this position, etc.

So keeping that in mind I have the following questions: Does anyone know any books that can help me with this? Does anyone know of some videos or some sort of visual guidance I can get on the internet?

Please keep in mind that I only have a couple of months of practice; I'm a complete beginner. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I really believe that just practicing songs isn't enough to actually master the guitar. I know songs help with technique and whatnot but I believe you actually have to understand what you're doing and why you are doing it in order to really get somewhere.

A couple of important notes:

- I have been trying to teach myself the guitar ( I took about 2 weeks of classes...more on that below ). I've done some reading online and I'm actually very lost...didn't and still don't know where to start ( like I said I just started learning some chords and some strumming. Don't know if this is the correct approach or not ).

-I attended some clases for a couple of weeks, but all they taught me was the basic open chords and different types of strumming. I got discouraged and didn't attend anymore since I don't really believe in this type of teaching of just mimicking and not actually knowing.

-I live abroad but language is not a problem so I guess I could find a teacher but the problem is actually finding someone good to teach me not like in those classes I mentioned earlier.

-I currently own and will be playing on a seagull s6 original cedar top

-I want to master the fingerstyle guitar

My end goal is to play like Craig D'Andrea or any other great fingerstyle player. I also want to be able to write my own compositions. I sincerely love music and there's nothing I want more than to become a great guitar player. I am a little lost and frustrated and I guess just ranting but any help or advice is greatly appreciated.
#2
I think you're trying too hard, too fast. Ever heard the old saying, you have to learn to crawl, before you can walk? It applies to guitar, too. Get back into class with a guitar teacher - one-on-one is most desireable. You will learn the basics, you will learn proper technique and if you have the right instructor, you will also learn theory, which teaches you why you're playing what you're playing. Although theory isn't absolutely necessary, it can help quite a bit.

Edit: Mimicry is good in guitar, just don't be like some on this forum and try to be exactly like your favorite musician. Use mimicry to help develop your own, unique style.
Last edited by KG6_Steven at Sep 8, 2011,
#3
even fingerstyle guitar uses chords. my first day of playing guitar, i was taught a 2-chord song with a very simple plucking pattern. the following week, i was taught another song and another simple plucking pattern. then i was taught that simplest and best known piece, the malagueña, then more and more complex versions of the malagueña. from there, i learned both songs and some classical guitar. no one really focused on theory, and i started figuring out the logic of the fretboard on my own.

before worrying about theory and complex playing, i suggest you spend some time learning to play the chords perfectly, easily, while changing from chord to chord. you can do this without songs, just changing, changing, changing till it's smooth and comes naturally. that will come in very handy whether finger picking or strumming.

btw, if you want to learn to fingerpick, take beginner fingerstyle classes, not classes where they teach you to strum. that's like taking forklift driving classes to learn to drive a motorcycle.

and patience is going to come in handy if you want to master fingerpicking - or anything, really.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#4
i agree with KG6_Steven and patticake even though i don't really think a teacher is better then " self teaching "

here is my advice :

1- determine your goals , and from your post , fingerstyle is what you want to perfect ( good choice by the way )

2- find a learning source , a book , online course , a teacher ... and follow a training routine based on that learning source .

3- remember to exercise your fingers every day , lessons and techniques won't teach you anything if you don't have the strength or dexterity to back it up ...

just set you self on course , make sure you have some time for your exercises , and don't rush ahead by learning songs or mimicking people on the web ...
PS : English is not my first language
#5
Thank you everyone for your input !

KG6_Steven I actually have very mixed feeling about going back to an instructor...I mean I may be wrong here but in my opinion I haven't met a teacher who I think is good enough for lack of better words. I mean don't get me wrong the teacher I worked with was talented but he just taught me the basic open chords and strumming. To his defense I didn't give the class much of an opportunity but like patticake said, I want to focus on fingerpicking and it didn't make sense to me staying in those types of classes. I would definitely prefer to learn on my own time but I mean if I find a good fingerstyle teacher here in Ecuador i'll definitely give it a try.

patticake I actually agree 100% with you about the fingerstyle classes. Like I stated above, that was my main reason to retire myself from the classes I was attending. The problem is I've looked for these types of beginners classes and haven't had much luck finding any place that offers them. Also, like I already said, I would love to actually teach myself guitar through books, internet, and any other means possible instead of being with a teacher.

miragefortuno I am 100% set on perfecting fingerstyle guitar! I am actually a complete beginner so I'm a little lost on how to go achieving this or how to get there you know? I really don't know what I should be practicing or doing for that matter. Do you know of any good fingerstyle guitar books I could purchase? Also what are some good finger exercises that I should be doing? I've actually searched around for this since I strongly believe that it is absolutely necessary to have the strength and finger independence but I usually just come up with spider exercises as a result from my searches. Not saying these are bad in any way but I would like to know if there are better exercises that I should be focusing on.

I do tend to get a little carried away and try too hard, too fast like KG6_Steven said but I'm completely lost so I just end up doing a little bit of everything. Any advice on what i should start with or what I should focus on to begin with in this journey to mastering the fingerstyle guitar is greatly appreciated.

Thank you all once again.
#6
I think the advice you received earlier was spot on. I didn't start working on fingerstyle until I could smoothly change from one chord to the next. If you're trying to learn fingerstyle on top of learning your chords, it's just too much.

If you're concentrating on playing chords, making them smooth AND trying to work on fingerstyle, as I said earlier, it's too much too fast. Work on strumming and learning your chords first, as Patticake said. Let's work on one thing and doing that one thing fairly well. Trying to learn to play chords and learn fingerstyle is a formula for choke and fail. I know I've repeated myself, but I did it for a reason. I'm trying to get you to realize that we need to concentrate on one thing at a time.
#7
i think your case is described as " dazed and confused "

but seriously KG6_Steven is right , as well as patticake's advice . you try to figure out 10 things at a time , slow down , and take a long , refreshing breath ...

exercising your fingers is something you should do every day , and it's NOT related to your level of technique , complete beginners as well as total pro's have to practice every day when possible . so my point is don't link the "exercising" part with the " technique learning " part .

and about ways to exercise , fingerpicking demands training both hands so your training routine must involve both hands , so give some time to exercise your left hand , take some rest , and then exercise your right hand . ( or give each hand a day )
when you see this , scroll up in this page , on the very top you will see " lessons " . there is a whole section of lessons on this site , search for " right hand " and I'm sure you will find some good help , and remember , exercise patterns don't have to be difficult or complex , a simple 1,2,3,4 exercise for your left hand and plucking each string with your fingers for your right hand will do the trick , actually , combining the two exercises above a playing SLOWLY ( at first ) will benefit you greatly ...


about books : http://faststrings.com is a good solution , books and dvds are available there for free , just enter the site , register , and search for " fingerpicking " or " exercise " ...
and by the way , search the site for " guitar techniques " magazine from issue 171 til 176 , there is a great fingerpicking beginner series , it should help you a lot ...


i hope you find my advice helpful , just sit down ,put your guitar aside , sort your plans out , make sure they fit in your daily schedule , sort your routine between exercising and learning , you can sometimes give a day to exercising then another to learn the techniques ...

sorry for my long post , and good luck .
PS : English is not my first language
#8
By the way , classical guitar , with nylon strings are ideal for fingerpicking techniques , actually you can't play a classical guitar with a pick ...

the fretboard is wider than a normal steel strings acoustic guitar , so there is more space between each string , which make is it ideal for fingerpicking ...

maybe starting on a classical guitar is a more comfortable choice , but it's just my opinion anyway ...
PS : English is not my first language
#9
As a helpful tip when learning fingerstlye is to learn to use the finger next to your little finger (no idea what its called) as well as the rest. This is the classical technique and is how Craig D'Andrea plays. I didn't and now when writing my own stuff I have to really concentrate on using that finger and the sound sometimes is muted. It very annoying.

Also, Craig D'Andrea uses non-standard and open tunings. I recommend you lean basic finger picking patterns (just search them on google) and use them in standard, and when you've got the basic ones sorted tune your guitar into a non-standard or open tuning. I recommend Open C buts that's just me. But stay in standard for quite a while before you move to non-standards. This is mainly because its useful to learn but in terms of the theory you said you wanted to know its a completely different kettle of fish, so don't be expected to learn the advanced theory for standard and expect to be able to use it for non-standard tunings.

(By advanced theory I mean more than learning that moving up a fret increases the pitch by a semi-tone and that playing a harmonic or just fretting normally on the 12th fret is an octave higher. That's because that's always the same.)
Fuck the system - Use non-standard tunings!

"Now the guitar is no more than a cowbell, so easy to play, that there is no stable lad who is not a musician on the guitar" Inquisitor Covarrubias 1611
#10
KG6_Steven I will definitely keep working on my chords. I actually tend to get involved with too many things at once in way too many things than I really should hahah I'll definitely be taking things slow from now on. Thanks for your advice !

miragefortuno I actually appreaciate your long responses, no need to be sorry ! Thank you for all your advice. I will certainly be searching for those lessons and taking a look at that site. Also I would take you up on that guitar recommendation but I'm broke lol plus I actually love my seagull s6. I'll definitely take a look at classical guitars in the near future though.

Fuzzywhynotry from what I've read so far ( I haven't read too much though ) I thought that the best way for hand positioning was to use the 3 fingers ( from index to the one before de pinky XD ) and alternate the thumb on the bass notes. Although I guess it couldn't hurt to incorporate all the fingers hahah I'm actually not even gonna look up alternate tunnings yet, going to take things slow ! But when I get to that I'll definitely let you know so you can five me some insight ! Thanks for your advice man and I'll definitely be looking up the fingerpicking patterns once I get my chord changes nice and smooth !

I got another question for anyone willing to help ! Which chords should I go learning first? I'm focusing on the open ( major and minor ) chords at the moment but once I get those down should I go to barred chords? If so, which ones? and after those ?? Thanks in advance !
Last edited by SG OddFuture at Sep 13, 2011,
#11
Quote by SG OddFuture


Fuzzywhynotry from what I've read so far ( I haven't read too much though ) I thought that the best way for hand positioning was to use the 3 fingers ( from index to the one before de pinky XD ) and alternate the thumb on the bass notes. Although I guess it couldn't hurt to incorporate all the fingers hahah I'm actually not even gonna look up alternate tunnings yet, going to take things slow ! But when I get to that I'll definitely let you know so you can five me some insight ! Thanks for your advice man and I'll definitely be looking up the fingerpicking patterns once I get my chord changes nice and smooth !



Yes, that was I was trying to say but I didn't quite word it like that XD. I meant to say use all your fingers, other than your pinky, and also your thumb.
And with the alt and open tunings, you just look them up (or make them) and then mess round with them. Most alt and open tunings can have things played on them, its just trying to find one you like and can use. I personally can't use DADGAD, but I'm slowly mastering Open C.

I recommend you learn the four chords, even though I hate to say it. They're G, D, Em and C (I think. I haven't used them for a while and my music theory is far from adequate to make sure). With a capo you can play any pop song you wish to, and so that gets a level of fun when playing the guitar which is very important.
Fuck the system - Use non-standard tunings!

"Now the guitar is no more than a cowbell, so easy to play, that there is no stable lad who is not a musician on the guitar" Inquisitor Covarrubias 1611
Last edited by Fuzzywhynotry at Sep 14, 2011,
#12
Glad to see that you're sorting your stuff out ...

As for your question , most guitar courses start with A , D , and E , and then move on the C , G , Em , Am , and F (barre chord ) , but you don't have to follow the same order ...

Learning these chords is not so hard , but moving between chords will take some practice , but you will get them eventually , and you can play a lot of -simple - songs using these chords ( like hotel yorba ... )

You should check out this book (Guitar Play-Along: Volume 83 - Three Chord Songs) , it's good with some easy songs and backing tracks , gives you something to practice ...

Now go and practice , and don't forget to send me the link to your " stairway to heaven " cover on YouTube ...
PS : English is not my first language
#13
Fuzzywhynotry, lol I thought you meant use all your fingers except for the index ! So I don't know if I'm understanding this right but...all alternate tunings do is rearrange the fretboard ?? In other words, in standard tuning we have the open strings E, A, D, G, B, e ( from lowest to highest ) and when we use alternate tuning the open strings change ( according to whatever we tune it to ) thus the rest of the fretboard changes. Correct me if I'm wrong but if that's the case I'll definitely only be working on standard tuning for the moment hahah

miragefortuno, I'll definitely be practicing those chord changes ! I know ideally I should be able to change from any chord to another, but as guidance, which chord changes should I be starting out with ? Which are the most used ? I'll definitely be looking that book up once I get these changes nice and smooth, thanks ! And don't worry, once I get there, I'll link you to all my covers
#14
which chord changes should I be starting out with ? Which are the most used ?

Well , there isn't an exact way to start with chords , and it doesn't matter really , the important thing is to learn all of these chords until you get to the part where changing between any of these chords is easy and comfortable ...
And it WILL take you some time and a lot of practice to get to that point , so don't expect to master chord progression in a week ...
don't forget to exercise you fingers too , a simple 10 min a day will pay off in the long run ...
PS : English is not my first language
#15
You have it figured out. I could teach you a Steve via song and you could play it better than Vai but If your just playing it, you couldnt necesarily play anything else, and have no idea why your doing what your doing just that it's what comes next then like you said what's the point? Well the only way to get around this is through theory it's literally the only thing you actually learn about the guitar. You see there is theory and technique. Technique is how you "apply that theory or how you transfer thar theory into live music, and theory is how to make music that fits together!
Quote by goldleadr
They don't know what there talking about! Let's put it this way right you suck


Yes I just quoted myself...
#16
Quote by SG OddFuture
So I don't know if I'm understanding this right but...all alternate tunings do is rearrange the fretboard ?? In other words, in standard tuning we have the open strings E, A, D, G, B, e ( from lowest to highest ) and when we use alternate tuning the open strings change ( according to whatever we tune it to ) thus the rest of the fretboard changes. Correct me if I'm wrong but if that's the case I'll definitely only be working on standard tuning for the moment hahah



Yeah, but that's what makes them so useful. If you listen carefully to Craig D'Andrea, or watch him play, he is playing about three strings at once. One string for the bass line, main tune and then sometimes a drone string. This sounds so good due to alternate tunings, and with standard its impossible to do. So if you're aiming for that sound, your gonna have to learn alt tunings.
But I do think you should stay in standard for a bit as you said, cos I didn't and I regret it. I can play well enough in standard, but no where near my playing capabilities in Open C. Many of my friends haven't heard me play in Open C, and so think I'm a bit of a fraud

One day I will prove them wrong! Mwhahaha!
Fuck the system - Use non-standard tunings!

"Now the guitar is no more than a cowbell, so easy to play, that there is no stable lad who is not a musician on the guitar" Inquisitor Covarrubias 1611
#17
miragefortuno, I'll be sure to keep practicing and exercising my fingers !! Thanks for all your help man.

goldleadr, that's exactly why I want to learn the theory. I can't bear the fact that I'm doing something, but don't understand why I'm doing it....I don't only want to be able to copy someone elses songs, I want to create my own as well.

Fuzzywhynotry, I actually love how Craig D'andrea plays and sounds !! Good to know it's because of alternate tunings, I'll definitely get around to learning them but for now I'll just stick with the basics :P Thanks for the advice !!
#18
i didn't actually suggest strumming - just learning chords. i feel that if the op wants to play fingerstyle, he should start there, not strumming. my very first guitar lesson taught me a song in two chords and the simplest fingerstyle playing pattern - thumb on lowest string, all three fingers together on 3 highest strings, thumb on second lowest string, all three fingers together on 3 highest strings, and repeat.

Quote by KG6_Steven
If you're concentrating on playing chords, making them smooth AND trying to work on fingerstyle, as I said earlier, it's too much too fast. Work on strumming and learning your chords first, as Patticake said. Let's work on one thing and doing that one thing fairly well. Trying to learn to play chords and learn fingerstyle is a formula for choke and fail. I know I've repeated myself, but I did it for a reason. I'm trying to get you to realize that we need to concentrate on one thing at a time.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!