#1
I'm 64, and have been playing for 2 1/2 years. I've come a long way, but there's certain block walls I just keep hitting.

My fingers are simply not nimble enough to play quickly. I also have a very hard time with doing things like walk-ups using three or four fingers (playing three or four frets in a row quickly with three or four fingers). There's other patterns I can play with decent speed, but three or four frets in a row are something my fingers just won't do.

I've practiced SRV's "Pride and Joy" every day for well over two years, and on some days can make it all the way through with no major mistakes. On the other hand, I've been working for months on an exercise double-picking the G minor pentatonic scale without mistakes, and can't break 100 bpm.

I spend a lot of time doing finger exercises on scales and other patterns. At the end of each day I spend about 30-40 minutes doing finger strength exercises. I spend a total of three to as many as six hours a day practicing, spread out over two or three sessions.

I wonder just how much age is a factor in all this. In interviews from 10 or more years ago, BB King says that he just can't play the way he did when he was younger. I know that Keith Richards can't do what he did in the 1970's.

Has anyone here started playing at an advanced age and gotten to be any good? If so, were there exercises or other things you did to help you get nimble?
#2
I think it's a combination of a few things.

Obviously, starting when you're younger is going to benefit you greatly. As someone who's taught and watched a lot of players evolve with time, there's no doubt in my mind that certain people are just naturally more coordinated with their fingers. I've still seen people who I thought would never be any good, prove me wrong with hard work.

Speed isn't everything either. And 2 in a half years really isn't that long to be playing. Just have fun with it is my advise.
#3
I cant help you with your question, but I just wanted to say that I greatly admire your dedication and determination. Guitar is not an easy instrument to become good at and doing so at your age deserves respect no matter what. I hope you will be able to overcome those walls and even if you cant I hope you will be able to enjoy playing anyways!
#4
Id have to say that its more just time invested. 2 1/2 years really is nothing, and to play pride and joy is an accomplishment for 2 1/2 years of playng. Just keep at it. I can beat my head against a wall with a technique for months some things even longer and the all of a sudden out of nowhere you shoot up outta nowhere to new levels. Perseverence is the key. As long as youre relatively healthy i see no reason why you wont get much closer to your goals.

I have played out in the club scene for many years, cover bands, originals since my 20's in earnest. Im 40 now, started at 17, and still have trouble with certan techniques and other things. Thats kinda the gift ,in my mind, of playing guitar. You can never run out of things to learn and explore. Anyway, enough rambling. soundslike you have a good routine keep it up.

edit- by healthy, i just meant no physical limitations like arthritis.
Last edited by pushingthrough at Dec 27, 2014,
#5
I only pray I make it to where you are, and can one day have the time to really devote, like you are, to playing. Thats how much I used to play as a young teen. Hard now, family, kids....
#6
Relax and don't sweat it. We can only play what we can play. Pride & Joy is one of my signature songs live but I never play it the same way twice. Neither did Stevie. Get the groove of the song and allow it to happen in the moment. Never beat yourself up because you "fat fingered" a few. Stevie, Les Paul, Clapton, Santana, Tommy Emmanuel, Guthrie G. all fat-fingered a few every night. It confirms we are human.

Just always keep playing and keep learning. I'm 58 going on 20 and I have been gigging to live audiences since 1969.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#7
A person that undertakes any endeavor at an advanced age will most likely succeed to one degree or another. Perhaps even earn props for as much as they accomplish.

A person that starts running in his 60's may one day finish a marathon. It will most likely take 4+ hours, but the finish line I suppose, is within reach.

This is why most sports have a, "seniors", class.

Playing the guitar is a sport, make no mistake about it. With that said, your cartilage is wearing down, your tendons aren't as compliant, and your testosterone levels aren't really near where they were when you went into puberty. Testosterone builds muscle. Even women's voices, "change", and it's because they manufacture testosterone in their ovaries.

My head sort of crunches when I turn it after staring at the computer screen for a while. Oddly, it didn't do that as recently as 2 years ago, back when I was a sprout of a lade at 64 years of age.

So no, you're never going to win a "shredd off" with a precocious 20 year old, get that idea out of your head.

Hope is what keeps us all going. Hope wants us to be better tomorrow than we are today. Hope is a good thing.

It's up to the individual to make certain that "hope", doesn't turn into "delusions".

Every player hopes that he or she will become as good as they imagine they can be.

Man's hope always exceeds his grasp. If I were you, (and to a certain extent I am at age 66), I'd play for the sheer joy of doing it, not for the idea that I'm going to be the consummate virtuoso 10 years from now...
#8
Quote by Monkeyleg
I wonder just how much age is a factor in all this. In interviews from 10 or more years ago, BB King says that he just can't play the way he did when he was younger. I know that Keith Richards can't do what he did in the 1970's.

Has anyone here started playing at an advanced age and gotten to be any good? If so, were there exercises or other things you did to help you get nimble?


Is this a problem with your fretting hand and picking hand, or are you finding that you can alternate pick eight notes at 100bpm?

Have you tried doing legato exercises with your left hand? Obviously, age will have some say as to how quickly you pick up certain abilities, but barring some kind of degenerative condition, those limitations are from the top end of abilities, not the basics.
#9
For dexterity, you don't need finger strength. You actually need the exact opposite ... as light a touch as you can get away with while still sounding a note cleanly. You can learn to relax each finger as it comes off the string (rather than thinking "lift up" which creates more muscle tension, just think "relax"), simply by playing ridiculously slowly for a few weeks, being very observant of what your fingers / hands / wrist / forearm / neck / shoulders / breathing are up to (especially when tension is building up), while at the same time going for accurate timing. This lets the brain fully process what's going on. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it really works. I doubt very very much that your hands and coordination are incapable of speeding up at the tender age of 64. Seriously.

Good luck, Jerry
#10
Thanks for the encouragement. I don't expect to be a virtuoso. I just know that my physical abilities will decline with time, and I'd like to get to be a decent player before the rate of descent exceeds my rate of increasing ability.

I enjoy playing just for the sake of playing, so I'm pretty happy when I make gains, even if they're small.

Is this a problem with your fretting hand and picking hand, or are you finding that you can alternate pick eight notes at 100bpm?


The problem is getting the two hands to cooperate. By themselves, either hand will do the job. I just keep screwing up the timing. I never had good coordination. I sucked at baseball.
#11
Quote by Monkeyleg
Thanks for the encouragement. I don't expect to be a virtuoso. I just know that my physical abilities will decline with time, and I'd like to get to be a decent player before the rate of descent exceeds my rate of increasing ability.

I enjoy playing just for the sake of playing, so I'm pretty happy when I make gains, even if they're small..
Well, as I said before, being 66 myself, your physical abilities are going to decline.

That shouldn't prevent you from improving, it will most likely, prevent you from making the rapid improvement you might have accomplished in your teens. So, these days, slow and steady is going to carry the race.

I think the best thing a guitarist can do for him or herself, is learn to sing, (if you can't already). I get a kick out of many country guitar players who have fabulous voices and seem to be just strumming in 4/4, until the instrumental break, then wow, all hell breaks loose from their guitar!

It's part of the process in learning to "entertain people" and not just shredd for shredding's sake. Speed is fine, but melodious always wins.

Quote by Monkeyleg
...[ ]....The problem is getting the two hands to cooperate. By themselves, either hand will do the job. I just keep screwing up the timing. I never had good coordination. I sucked at baseball.
Tune the damned thing to a chord and thrash away using only a grand barre to change chords. That would allow you to work on your rhythms without giving your fret hand a lot to do. Remember Ritchie Havens? There are plenty of only I, IV, V chord songs around.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 27, 2014,
#12
Quote by Monkeyleg
Thanks for the encouragement. I don't expect to be a virtuoso. I just know that my physical abilities will decline with time, and I'd like to get to be a decent player before the rate of descent exceeds my rate of increasing ability.

I enjoy playing just for the sake of playing, so I'm pretty happy when I make gains, even if they're small.


The problem is getting the two hands to cooperate. By themselves, either hand will do the job. I just keep screwing up the timing. I never had good coordination. I sucked at baseball.


As for guitar playing look for legato exercises and practise them until they become a habit to a metronome slow and then ad speed as you get going. This will make your hands feel like you can play anything you want because the truth is that you can!

For what you have shared you tend to be too much influenced by the people you like such as BB King og Keith Richard. It is your mind and your thoughts that matter, you have the ability to be creative and play whatever you like even if its highly fast and technical. It has nothing to do with age or what you can't do. Its mindset and if you think you can do it then you can and then it is all a matter of getting into what you want to do.

When it comes to guitar playing and results it all depends how you learn and in what order to accomplish to be good enough reason for the time spend on it. What you learn is up to you as there are no rules to what you should learn as a guitarist.
#13
Congrats on playing 2 years iam just playing 2 months,and pulling my hair out your doing fine.
#14
For what you have shared you tend to be too much influenced by the people you like such as BB King og Keith Richard.


Actually my guitar hero is SRV. While I can play Pride and Joy on a good day at about 3/4 speed without too many mistakes, I realize that it took 2 1/2 years to get to that point. At the same time, I was just learning guitar when I started learning that song. I won't ever be able to play with enough speed to do most of his songs, but I'll use licks of his when I'm just messing around trying to come up with something on my own.

I enjoy BB King because of his clean sound and very precise playing. He's the anti-SRV It's no less difficult to mimic his sound, though.

The easiest to play is Keith Richards. I had most of Brown Sugar down in the first few weeks after I started playing guitar. His genius is/was the iconic riffs he came up with.
#15
I'd say just keep playing,Enjoying and don't worry.You will definately improve playing daily as you are.
#16
At my age, I'm just happy as hell when I can remember the words to the second verse, let alone the whole song...
#17
Quote by Captaincranky
At my age, I'm just happy as hell when I can remember the words to the second verse, let alone the whole song...


With "Pride and Joy", I'm at the point where I play all the way through without even thinking about it.
#18
Hi Monkeyleg,

I have a couple of students in their 60's and I can tell you that it will take a little longer but you'll get their if you stick with it. If you would like a more scientific explanation perhaps checkout the book, The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.

BTW, most people can't play Pride and Joy.
#19
Quote by Unstuck Guitar
Hi Monkeyleg,
checkout the book, The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.

BTW, most people can't play Pride and Joy.


As an aside, Ozzy once opined that in the book "How To Be A Rock Star" they left out the chapter about having talent.

I think it's great when people take up guitar and it can be done at any age.

My suggestion with the OP is don't get too bogged down in trying to become a virtuoso guitarist as a lot of people automatically think that this is the way forward and as we all know what is right for a 19 year old kid wont work for somebody in their 50's. I think you have pretty much past the first few posts, you have a guitar, a desire to learn it and you have been practicing, my advice would be for you to build your repertoire. Learn more songs from the people you like and try and build a 20 or 30 song set list and build on it in terms of what level. I'd start with just learning the chords a rhythm to five of your favorite songs and then work on trying to learn the leads to them. Don't get too bogged down with technique based exercises for lead guitar maestros, learn a few songs and have fun otherwise you can get frustrated and start beating yourself up. Just my opinion, you can blow it off as complete and utter garbage if you like
Last edited by extinctguitar at Dec 30, 2014,
#20
Quote by extinctguitar
As an aside, Ozzy once opined that in the book "How To Be A Rock Star" they left out the chapter about having talent.

I think it's great when people take up guitar and it can be done at any age.

My suggestion with the OP is don't get too bogged down in trying to become a virtuoso guitarist as a lot of people automatically think that this is the way forward and as we all know what is right for a 19 year old kid wont work for somebody in their 50's. I think you have pretty much past the first few posts, you have a guitar, a desire to learn it and you have been practicing, my advice would be for you to build your repertoire. Learn more songs from the people you like and try and build a 20 or 30 song set list and build on it in terms of what level. I'd start with just learning the chords a rhythm to five of your favorite songs and then work on trying to learn the leads to them. Don't get too bogged down with technique based exercises for lead guitar maestros, learn a few songs and have fun otherwise you can get frustrated and start beating yourself up. Just my opinion, you can blow it off as complete and utter garbage if you like


I have a pretty long list of songs that I've learned to one extent or another. It's a pretty varied list, from rock to Delta blues to Chicago blues, and some stuff that doesn't fit any particular category. Many are songs I'm not really motivated enough to try to perfect, but I return to them every now and then.

I know I won't be a virtuoso. I'd like to reach the point where I wouldn't be embarrassed to play in front of friends.
#21
Quote by Monkeyleg
. I'd like to reach the point where I wouldn't be embarrassed to play in front of friends.


It takes time, just keep doing it and the next thing you know is people will be making requests As long as you keep it up I promise you you'll be fine. It's a very perishable thing is playing the guitar and persistence is key. Nothing is set in stone, maybe when you do the finger exercise start in a higher position where you can do it rather than starting at the first fret start in the 5th position or the 10th and do it everyday without fail. you will see results I promise that overtime it will improve. Remember that where you are today someone was in the same place yesterday, we all start the same it's just the keeping on keeping om that improvement comes.
#22
Oh, I know. I can remember where I was two years ago, and I've come a long, long way.

Then I listen to someone like Jonny Lang. Starts learning guitar at 12, cuts his first album at 14, and wins his first Grammy at 16. I hate him.
#23
Quote by Monkeyleg
The problem is getting the two hands to cooperate. By themselves, either hand will do the job. I just keep screwing up the timing. I never had good coordination. I sucked at baseball.

From what I've read, a lot of your practice revolved around finger strength and scales. What have you done in terms of coordination? Going based off your ability to play pride and joy is being rough. That's a difficult song to play, even for the advanced players. I'd personally focus on legato scales and purely right handed techniques. There are some nuances of playing guitar that just can't be practiced and only come with time and playing.

What is your current repertoire? There's a reason why people are discouraged from going for the harder pieces of music right from the beginning, as any failure there can drain anyone of their hopes.
#24
My practice involves scales, strength, and everything in the Justin Guitar courses. I've been doing those for over two years.

I don't know that I have a "repertoire". I play Pride and Joy, Hideaway, Brown Sugar, Stay With Me, Start Me Up, Baby Please Don't Go (mix of my version and Lightning Hopkins), the opening riff of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", and then Mick Taylor's solo at the end, riff from House of the Rising Sun, parts of Sympathy for the Devil, and bits and pieces of other songs from time to time. Then there's a lot of "in the style of" lessons on Youtube with songs in the style of SRV, BB King, Albert King, and others.

The only songs that I can play from beginning to end are Pride and Joy and Brown Sugar. The others don't have much to them after the opening riffs, or just repeat them. I'm getting close to finishing Hideaway.
#25
I'm not far behind you in age. When I'm having trouble with a song or a part of a song, I'll play it 10-15 mins in the morning and 10-15 again right before bed. One day, like magic, it comes together. You're mileage may vary but it works for me.