Well, experiment isn't exactly what this was. But I was a totally amateur guitar player (fingerstyle and/or classical) who could stumble through some moderately complicated stuff, but could only play relatively simple stuff cleanly.

Long story but I quite playing (completely) in the early 1980's (DOB 1949) and finally picked up a guitar again about a week or so ago. For context when I was last playing I was mostly playing my classical guitar (popular stuff of my own arrangement or purchased arrangements) but would occasionally pick up my mint condition ES-175D. I knew enough music theory to build and label chords (chord labels seem to be 'flexible' ), knew of but didn't really know the scale modes, could improvise a pretty decent bass line off only a chord progression (I did play an upright electric bass in a local jazz band), but could not improvise much of anything other than maybe a standard I/IV/V blues thing), etc.

So where are you 35'ish years of not playing and a week of playing later ??

1) I recalled many of the more basic chord structures (open and moveable)

2) The more 'complex' chords were simply 'gone'

3) While I was last playing a classical guitar with a good bit more string spacing than my ES-175D that I am now playing, I simply do NOT recall a simple 'open C major' requiring great care to avoid unwanted string damping and/or poor fretting leading to string buzz.

4) Barre chords are now (mostly) very hard to do.

5) I used to be able to play a fairly simple, but pleasing, arrangement of Mr. Bojangles. The four bar intro "was still there". The rest of it is gone and isn't coming back on relearning. I am literally starting all over. More complicated stuff is 'gone from the beginning'.

6) I used to 'kind of know' the fretboard. I could certainly identify all the notes but might sometimes take moment to think about it. Other than strings 1 and 6, ALL of that is gone past the 6th fret.

7) This was astounding to me. I had to relearn all of the standard (treble clef) notes that are below C (at the bottom) and above A (at the top). A note that is "two little lines" above the open E note (first string). I had to count what that was as I no longer recognized it. This was shocking to me.

8) All the 'scale form's were gone except for one major scale form and one minor pentatonic scale form (yeah, that one).

So if any of you were just dying to know how such as experiment comes out but didn't want to wait 35 years to find out, here ya' go :-)

Last edited by DaveLeeNC at Mar 21, 2016,
These things seem to begin very rapidly and regularly the moment you stop playing.

I was the smart guy who figured that I was going to make something of myself without being humble or submitting to tried and true routes. I finished my first 2 years of college, received my diploma, and went into the working world.

I had started playing guitar at 15 (electric), purchased a steel string around 20, and took classical guitar lessons for 2 years from 20-22. For the next 6 years, I tinkered around, playing open mics around town and occasionally sitting with another guitarist.

I opted to complete my undergrad in 2012. 2.5 years of working 40 hours a week and taking 9 hours a semester left little time and ambition to even pick up an acoustic and thumb out a few notes.

I graduated in December, and suddenly came across 30 hours of time per week I needed to do something.

I opted to try piecing together a few BuildYourOwnClone kits, and while rusty, my soldering and circuit troubleshooting was intact.

I then, had to test the vintage pedals. I sat down, fired up the old axe, and in as few as 30 months of not touching it:

*I know the string names and can figure out notes on the fret board, though only know the lower two strings up to the 12th fret.


*Finger synchronization is largely gone outside of standard rock rhythms

*Hand Strength went to zero. I can only fret on new strings on my Taylor or Stratocaster for about a half hour before fatigue sets in.

*String Bending...ouch

That said - I did the only thing that made sense to do. I ordered a body blank and a set neck, and am optioning to build my hands up over the next month, fashioning a nice piece of wood it into a Les copy, while still continuing to play a few times a week.

Make time for your passions, and don't let them fall to the back burner. I forgot just how much playing was a part of me until I came back to it. If you don't use it, you lose it.

-also Dave
Last edited by dPrimmy at Mar 21, 2016,
Neuroplasticity. The brain will destroy pathways that are no longer needed. Repair time will depend on how damaged they are - the longer they weren't used then the more work will be involved.

If you didn't talk or read for 35yrs you might have the same issue, even if you could still think in your native tongue.