#1
Hello! I have decided to join the amazing world of Guitar and need some advice as to my learning routine! Let me start with a little background information.

About 6 years ago I bought my first guitar. Played it for about a month, didn't learn any chords and had a buddy just show me finger placements for a few riffs, then I had to go away for work so I sold it. So now that I have time to learn and 100x the desire I had before, 4 days ago I went and picked up an Epiphone Les Paul Special 2 with a Fender Champion 20 amp to get started. I have been watching some videos and have learned how to play the chords C-A-G-E-D as well as the first part of the Intro to One by Metallica. I can play them all pretty well too. Occasionally I will mute a string I don't intend to but for the most part my chords are playing perfectly. The problem is my chord changing, which obviously 4 days is NOWHERE near enough experience and play time.

The advice I am seeking is in regards to how I should go about my learning routine. Usually I do 20-30 minute sessions, take a break and do another 20-30 minute session and now that I got the chords down, I pretty much focus solely on chord switching. I can't seem to get my fingers to move in unison and they always seems to be a second or two behind what my brain tells them to do. I am well aware that muscle memory needs to be build and like I said, I know 4 days is not nearly enough time. But I am just looking for any bit of advice I can get as I have wanted to learn for sooo long and am determined.

So, are my broken up sessions a good way to go about it or should I try for less sessions but for a longer time frame? Should I learn more chords or should I focus on being able to switch between the ones I know already until I can get them down flawlessly? Any tips for working on getting my fingers to work in unison?

Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated.
#2
4 days dude really. patience is what i recommend. it takes time to learn to play no short cuts or easy answers. you need to learn barre chords which will help when playing metal and a fair bit of rock. 
#3
monwobobbo

Yeah like I said, I know that's nowhere near long enough to acquire any sort of talent and I wasn't expecting too lol. I know it will be years before I can competently play. I just want to make sure I have a good routine for learning and don't get into any bad habits that will be hard to break down the road. Just looking for some advice on how to go about the learning process, that's all.

Thanks for the reply.
#4
Thread was moved to forum: Guitar Techniques
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#5
Prolific-JaY  what ever works for you is good. the more you play the better you will get. no need to practice for hours on end with no breaks. i do suggest learning skills that are about guitar playing rather than a couple of riffs. yeah i know being able to play stuff you know is great and all but you have zero foundation which in the long run is what counts. (not saying don't play riffs you know but rather don't make that the main focus now). 
#6
monwobobbo Ya that's what I figured. I've been trying to learn theory first. In all honesty, I haven't even checked out any tutorials on songs yet other than the intro for One because it was pretty basic and easy and gets my fingers moving a little bit.

I've also been trying to up pick my chords as I learn them as well. Aside from building the muscle memory to transfer between the chords I have already learned, should I shift some of my focus onto learning barre chords and power chords as well or should I just stick with one thing at a time?

Again, thanks for the reply. I'm pretty determined, as you can probably tell lol.
#7
Quote by Prolific-JaY
monwobobbo Ya that's what I figured. I've been trying to learn theory first. In all honesty, I haven't even checked out any tutorials on songs yet other than the intro for One because it was pretty basic and easy and gets my fingers moving a little bit.

I've also been trying to up pick my chords as I learn them as well. Aside from building the muscle memory to transfer between the chords I have already learned, should I shift some of my focus onto learning barre chords and power chords as well or should I just stick with one thing at a time?

Again, thanks for the reply. I'm pretty determined, as you can probably tell lol.

well i wouldn't take on to much at a time. learn to make your open E chord with your first 3 fingers (as most will tell you to do) and with your 2nd to 4rth (pinky.) once you get the 2nd to 4th way down that will pave the way for E position barre chords. A is a little easier it just requiers you to lay your 3rd finger over the 3 notes) again the normal (ie cowboy chord) way is with your first finger) but if you can dow it with your 3rd then it makes A position barre chords easier to learn. 
#8
monwobobbo Ok sounds good! Yeah using my pinky has been intimidating haha, just so awkward at first but obviously that's something that requires time. But I will absolutely keep that in mind during my practice sessions and start incorporating it into them. Thank you!
#9
I kind of wished I would have started some kind of journal when I started less than a year ago, something to reference back to. You always wonder, "how long is it going to take" and then you get to a point after playing a few months were it may seem like you haven't progressed enough. You forget that when you started you didn't even know which string is which, or you had to count the frets to find the 7th one. It seems to be typical that when you start your searching for the best method that will get you there the fastest, I started by specifically learning songs and it didn't take long for me to realize that I could do it, but I didn't have a clue as to what exactly I was doing. Keep at it and you will find your comfort zone as far as your routine and practice schedule, I like to play for about an hour then kind of study, or reflect on the things I learned. The early stages are difficult because you haven't really got all the much invested yet, its easy to talk yourself out of continuing with learning. I have a lot of respect for people that have put years into playing as a hobby, good or bad, its a example of dedication because unlike out jobs, there's really no motivation other than a deep desire.

Good Luck
Flying in a blue dream
Last edited by SanDune65 at May 6, 2017,
#10
SanDune65 Hey thanks for that! I've can relate, this is my 2nd guitar and that exact thing happened to me with my first combined with the fact real life took over for a bit. Can only imagine the progress I would currently be at as that was 6 years ago. But I'm kind of glad it did happen because the desire never left and now it's back stronger than ever. I decided to start learning music theory as well as guitar and even in the short amount of experience and learning I have done, I'm already somewhere that felt like it would take ages to get to on day 1. A diary is a great idea, I'll start jotting that down with my music theory notes!

Thanks for the input, greatly appreciated!
#11
Prolific-JaY dude play what you want to play. talent will come with passion. Learn some songs to get your dexterity up then start scales, start using your brain. Just don't be one of those guitar players who thinks they're good just because they can learn metal tabs 
#13
Quote by Prolific-JaY
So, are my broken up sessions a good way to go about it or should I try for less sessions but for a longer time frame?

Actually you're much better off doing smaller sessions every day, if you can.  It's a physical process as much as a mental one so the more important thing than being able to play for several hours once a week is just to keep your body in touch with what you're doing and making sure that you keep building on, and maintaining, what you learn.
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#14
lukethrash7506 Thanks for the reply! Ok so I'm on the right track. I'm actually learning to memorize my fretboard right now. I've got my two low strings memorized and obviously my high E as it's the same as Low E (for standard tuning) But the inbetween strings I'm having trouble memorizing but gets better each day. Should I move to chord structure after that and learning what notes go with the root notes of the chord? There's so much to learn. I started getting into the circle of 4th's and 5th's but thats a little too far ahead right now lol.

Zaphod_Beeblebr Yeah now that my fingers are callousing, my sessions are all over the place. I'll pick it up and play for 3 hours sometimes and other times for half an hour. I think I'm averaging about 4-6 hours a day right now lol.
#15
I want to just give some advice.

Play slowly, and play relaxed. When you're new it's tempting to switch those chords as quickly as possible. The problem is that it's very easy to load your fingers/arm/wrist with tension. When changing chords think of it like yoga for your fingers. You want them to move gracefully to the next chord, like a dance. The mistake I made, and many others do, is to just do it as quickly as possible, fuck the grace. But as you'll find out, that approach causes you a lot of problems down the line.

So yeah, get in the zone, a slow, easy as zone, and move those fingers like they're ballet dancers. You'll probably have to go painfully slow at first, but keep it up for a couple of weeks and you'll have set yourself a superb foundation.

My other tip, related of course, is to play with a heavy & relaxed arm. That's your fretting arm I'm talking about. When holding a chord, or even a single note, relax your arm so it feels heavy. The weight of your arm will pull your fingers into the strings. This is the proper way to play, unlike many who will tell you to just squeeze/pinch the neck between your thumb and your fingers - this is wrong! Don't apply any pressure with the thumb (the easy way to test if you're doing it right is to see if you can play the chord without your thumb even touching). Hopefully that make sense, but my god, when I figured that out my playing got a lot better. It's a minor difference in technique, but a huge difference in playing.

Good luck, and have fun!
#17
gweddle.nz This is excellent advice and hits the nail pretty clearly on the head to some of my problems. I focus too much on making sure my thumb is always in a good position and doesn't ride too far up my neck which, in turn, makes it harder on my fingers to get where they need to be. It seems like I'm nice and relaxed when I start strumming the first chord then as I switch I can automatically feel the tension set in as I try repositioning my thumb for the switch. Excellent advice and will begin implementing your tips immediately. Thank you.

lukethrash7506 Ok will do. Thanks.
#18
Quote by Prolific-JaY
gweddle.nz  It seems like I'm nice and relaxed when I start strumming the first chord then as I switch I can automatically feel the tension set in as I try repositioning my thumb for the switch.


Yes, and as you play more chords the tension builds up! The thumb should really end up moving into position on autopilot. It's not so bad if the thumb rides up, a lot of people play like this. The problem is if the thumb is applying pressure. It shouldn't ever. It should be very relaxed. This is even more important once you get into barre chords. It's quite shocking how often people, even teachers, tell you to just squeeze the neck. There is no squeezing required!
Last edited by gweddle.nz at May 8, 2017,
#19
There's some excellent advice here.  I particularly like gweddle's suggestion of playing slowly, that'll definitely help you get your fingers moving in unison.  Slow down as much as you need (even to the point where you're ridiculously slow) to get the changes correct.  You'll soon find it gets easier, then you'll be able to speed up a bit.

The other thing you might like to have a look at is pedal points.  When you switch from Am to C, how many of your fingers lift from the strings?  If you lift all three, you're doing more work than you need to.

Once you've got CAGED and scale patterns down, I'd move onto more complex open-position chords.  Here's a nice guide:-

http://www.dummies.com/art-center/music/guitar/24-common-open-position-guitar-chords/

...some of my favourite songs with 7th chords (what the link generally focuses on) in the intros: Buckcherry - Check your Head, Stereophonics - Jayne, Bruce Dickinson - Taking the Queen.

Have fun.
#20
Learning new chords definitely shouldn't be a priority. It's easiest to just learn chords when you need to learn them. That ensures you aren't learning some obscure chord you're never gonna use.
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#22
I'd like to thank everybody for their contributions to this thread thus far. Just over a week in and the progress is such a confidence boost and motivation to keep going and I attribute a lot of that to the advice in this thread. Not only am I learning to play the guitar, but am well on my way to understanding how music works in a way I never understood before!

Thanks to all! Rock on!
#23
It can be a rollercoaster, your up your down. One day everything is clicking, your sounding good and hitting the notes, then the next day not so much. It can be cruel at times, working really hard and doing all the right things to take one step forward and two steps back. But it all starts to come together at some point, the things that you do over and over again for no apparent reason will come into play soon. You will be rewarded for all the work you put into it.
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#24
SanDune65 Yup I've already had those times where it is best to just put the guitar down and switch to studying theory or just listening to music and then coming back to the guitar once the frustration has gone. And I know there is a lot more frustration to come! But those days where everything I have learned so far is clicking are so rewarding that it makes all the frustration worth it! And I haven't even scratched the surface of becoming a guitarist yet! Super excited for the future rollercoaster rides this amazing hobby will bring me!! Today has me really excited cause my strumming is starting to work and my pinky can do a few things now but who knows what tomorrow will bring haha!
#25
Prolific-JaY  Its good to find a teacher or one on line lessons that will get you started in the correct path, but what I do is a practice a bit of tecnics once a week, then play it over and over everyday, but then I always finish with a few songs I know just for fun to keep my self from boredom. This really helps keep me wanting to learn. And as everyone says on here the key to a good guitar player is a lot of practice.