Hello UG,

I am a new guitarist wannabe. Three days ago I had no knowledge about guitars, or any other musical instrument for that matter, beyond their general appearance and that supposedly chicks dig 'em. Actually I want to learn banjo but thats not what this thread is about. A good friend of mine gave me an acoustic guitar, its a Fender DG100 , for my 25th birfday. I decided that since I have a guitar I might as well learn to play and so I purchased an instructional book, a tuner and a pack of picks.

My buddy has a Ovation 1985 SE that his step-dad gave him for his 18th and he thinks that he should learn to play too....so we are kinda trying to figure this thing out together. My girlfriend has a birthday coming up and she wants to learn as well so it looks like I am going to have a nice group to practice with.

We tuned out guitars which is easy as pie with a tuner and its one of the first parts of the book. Book so far-

1.) Buy expensive guitar
2.) Get it set-up
3.) Different ways to tune it
4.) How to sit and hold your guitar/plectrum
5.) Tap your foot when you play
6.) "Caterpillar" <- where I'm at

Most people and the other books I have since flipped though in the guitar stores say to just start learning chords and songs. The book I have been using gives very clear instructions not to progress to chords until you have mastered the "caterpillar" and memorized the strings/notes. The "caterpillar" means you play the A note on the high E sting with your index finger. Then you play the A# note with your second and the B with your ring finger and finally the B# with your pinky. Then you do it again only starting out with the C# on the A string. You have to be able to do the whole thing ten times at will without moving any finger that dose not need to be moved and without a single mistake of any kind. One time equals once up and down the neck. So far this has proved to be really freakin hard. It hurts and is awkard but thats about what I expected so no worries there. What dose worry me is that everything else I have come across so far has the beginner jumping directly into chords and songs with everything else later. Also my book is like 40 pages long whereas a lot of the others are much thicker.

Anyway my question is a nebulous one; How am I doing? Am I on the right track? and finally most importantly Am I being efficient?

Thoughts and opinions welcome,

Last edited by monkeybear at Jul 1, 2008,
We can't really tell without hearing your playing so if you have a camera, record yourself playing and place it on YouTube, otherwise our advice can only go so far.

But judging from what you're doing, you're doing fairly well, but if you're really looking into being a musician, you should learn some chords and study how they're formed, chord theory is the building FOUNDATION of music, you need it to make music that fits itself well.

It's all preference on how you learn though, I recommend you learn some chords and a song or two so you can play that when you get bored of mindless practice.

Good luck!
yah^ just practice a few chords over and over until you can play along with a slower tempo song. once you've got a song down it will give you a MASSIVE boost in confidence and you wont be able to put that guitar down.
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u definately need to learn chords but what that book is showing u is what i would call a version of the chromatic scale. u need to do a combination of that and chords. u will get your picking real good and make sure u practice alternate picking early cause its a good habit to get into.
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We can't really tell without hearing your playing so if you have a camera, record yourself playing and place it on YouTube, otherwise our advice can only go so far.

I was asking more about the direction I was taking my musical education rather than my actual progress. If I were to film myself playing it mostly consist of "twang....twang......explective" me starting over "twang......twang......twang.......twang.....explective" :p
Ah ok, personally, I wouldn't mind watching a video of someone looking for advice, you seem like a pretty nice guy, so I'd be happy to help.

Wow, I really appreciate that. I might take you up on it too, just give me a little more time to learn and figure out who to get a camera from. Thansk!
make sure u practice alternate picking early cause its a good habit to get into

Thanks, I actually just started doing that today. Its a little tough to remember to do it when you are playing as slow as I am but I remember most of the time. Good advice.
I'd just go straight to chords, you can muck around with them whilst learning the notes and mucking around with the 1-2-3-4 exercise - chords are fairly static anyway, you don't move your fingers much once the chord is held down. In all honesty though I'd ditch the "caterpillar" , moving around the neck and fretting/picking sequential notes is a lot harder than playing static chords. You'll find it a lot easier if you go back to it in a few weeks when your hands are a bit stronger and a bit more mobile.

Just start with a couple of chords...E, A and D are a good place to start, they're fairly simple, commonly used and sound nice together, they'll keep you occupied for a good couple of weeks.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Jul 1, 2008,