With the social distancing and shelter in place orders, you’ll not be surprised to learn that my guitar lessons have been canceled, indefinitely. So, while I continue to work out of the book, I no longer have the motivation of a weekly trip to Guitar Center pushing me onward and upward. Add to this the unrecognized, but ever present subdermal stress of this whole Covid-19 mess and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I haven’t been pushing myself particularly hard over the last two weeks. I’ve been diddling, but not really practicing. Playing the stuff I’m already comfortable with and working on picking up speed on a couple other things.
So, in order to get myself back on track, I’m taking advantage of the “3-months free” that showed up in my email from Fender Play. This is the online, learn-to-play website from Fender Guitars. I’m not very far into it, but it’s not terrible.
I think I am most pleased by the fact that it starts at a different place on the guitar than my Hal Leonard book does. Hal starts with the 6th string and works backward. At this point in that book I’m only using the 4th-6th strings and have just started with bar chords and moving bar cords. The Fender Play starts on the 1st string and works in the opposite direction. I’m actually using the first 4 strings in those lessons. Also, they jump into simple chords (G, C) and some strumming technique early in. I don’t dislike either and actually think they work nicely together. At least that’s my early opinion. Things may change. And I’m not sold on the Fender Play site enough yet to say I’ll be willing to pay when my 3-months are up.
I’m still working on getting “wipe out” down pat. The changes in the middle are coming to me slowly and I’d say I can play it at a little better than half speed with confidence. Keeping time, counting things out, and muting are all still giving me trouble, but I’m working on it.
I’m still having fun. Still haven’t gotten the red guitar in to be checked and tweaked. Kinda thinking I want an acoustic guitar. So much to learn. So much to master. Anyway, I should go. Gotta get some practice in tonight before slipping back into “The Expanse.” Later
I was going to do a summary of how the year is going, in relation to my goals, but instead, I’m doing an overview of how my guitar lessons are progressing. I’ll deal with the rest in another post.
So, I’ve had a month’s worth of lessons from Adam at Guitar Center. Let’s talk about how that’s going. Firstly, I told Adam I wasn’t interested in reading music at this time, so he’s teaching me tablature (tabs).
The lessons I’m doing are coming out of this book, Electric Guitar Book 1 – Guitar Center Lessons by Hal Leonard Corporation. Pretty sure, given the Guitar Center logo on the cover, that this is the official store book.
A month in, five 30-minute lessons, and we’re still working in Chapter 1. We skipped the first couple sections of the book and just sorta summarized that information. I bought a digital tuner and so I may never actually learn to tune by ear. Sad, but entirely possible. I learned that the mnemonic for remembering the strings:
Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie
Which works out to E A D G B E, and starts with the fatest string and works up to the thinest. Which is absolutely the reverse of how they’re laid out in the notation, where the thinnest string is on top and the fatest on the bottom. The book starts out with some simple stuff on the 6th string (Low E), adds the A string (5th), and then goes on to Rhythm Tab. This is where we started. Though, I have since gone back and worked on the simplest lessons, which are simple one and two measure bits using the 5th and 6th strings. Those would be bits for the Theme from Jaws, Green Onions, Peter Gunn, something called “Brit Rock” which is obviously the beginning of the Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, and lastly, Lean On Me.
Like I said, we jumped right into the Rhythm Tab section of the book. Which starts with how bar lines divide music into measures, introduces time signatures, 4/4 time, and quarter notes. The four exercises are each just two measures one is from Working Man, but the others are just exercises–Feel the Beat, Zeppelin Tribute, and Blues Riff. So, I walked out of my first lesson with four exercises.
The next two lessons added More Riffs to what I had from week one. The More Riffs section gets into 3/4 time, adds half and eighth notes into my count, and adds some rests (quarter and eighth) into the mix. Weeks two and three were both on this section and week four finished this section and went into the next. All of these were just using the 5th and 6th strings (A and low E) and none are longer than four measures. In the book they’re titled as follows and in order: My Name Is Jonas, Malaguena, Canon in D, Electric Funeral, Cool Groove, Lady Madonna, Crazy Train, Aqualung, Green-Eyed Lady, 25 Or 6 To 4, and Brain Stew. You probably recognize some of those. Maybe not when I play them, but I’ve at least heard most of those songs.
Two weeks ago, I started working on The D String section of the book, and that’s where I still am. So, a month in and I’m only three strings in… half-way there. This section also adds staccato marks, palm muting, and tie notes. Still just short two to four measure exercises, but I’m still having problems reading the music, counting, and playing all at the same time. I find if I can memorize the patterns things go better. My practice list now includes–D-Mented, Machine Gun, Oh, Pretty Woman, You Give Love A Bad Name, Space Trucking, Money (That’s What I Want), Hava Nagila, and the last one on my exercise list is Super Freak.
I’m working on memorizing the progression for Pretty Woman and Money for this Tuesdays lesson. I toyed with the idea of recording a runthrough of all this to add to the post, but I decided that I’m not going to do that. Maybe when I get to the end of Chapter 1. The last lesson in the chapter is the full song, Wipe Out by the Surfaris. When I get there, I’ll record it and post it as a progress report.
I wish I could say I practice everyday, but I’ve missed a few. Usually, I try for 30-minutes of practice, but I usually go longer than that and have a couple of 2-hour practices under my belt. My fingers are not sore and I’m not really developing callouses, so maybe I’m doing something wrong. Or it could simply be a result of working with my hands my whole life. Whatever the case, I’m starting to recognize some of the things I’m playing and I’m still enjoying it quite a lot.
On Friday, I pulled the trigger on a guitar I found on ebay. I found a 1986 Charvel Model 1 that is in better condition than the one I used to have, or in better condition than the last time I saw that other guitar. I don’t think it has the original tremolo bar, but that is a small thing. It needs to go to Guitar Center and get setup, but it’s pretty sweet and I’m geeked to have found one as nice as this. Plus, I have two guitars now. One for each hand ;-). I’m thinking that an acoustic would be a nice addition, but I’ve spent enough money on this hobby for a while.