Author Topic: Mopar's Road Case  (Read 385 times)

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Offline mopar

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Mopar's Road Case
« on: July 12, 2021, 03:34:43 pm »
Intro
This thread will either be a chronicle of my learning journey or end shamefully in a handful of posts when I throw in the towel. Let's see shall we.

Username explained?
I have a habit of choosing forum handles based on whatever is lying around my desk at the time...


Background?
I watched a TedTalk years ago that detailed the effects playing a musical instrument had on the brain.  The tl'dr was that it simultaneously engages more areas of the brain than any other activity with a wealth of benefits from boosting mental agility and staving off cognitive decline in later years (if I ever find that video I'll post it here).  "That sounds great..." I thought to myself, "I should do that!"

Laka VUC70

Cue an impulse purchase of a ukulele a few years ago.  I had in mind I wanted to learn guitar eventually, but thought I'd start with something basic as a gateway instrument.  I learnt a few songs from some YouTube tutorials, but in truth never really afforded it the focus it deserved.  It's a lovely instrument, just looking at it makes my happy, but I could never quite gel with its jangly music box tones.

ToysRUs Playon

We got this thing for my son for about £20 on his 5th birthday I think.  He's long since progressed to a proper guitar, it got passed to my daughter but she never really had any love for it.  Last week I picked it up to decide what to do with it, then ended up using it to start Justin's beginner course.  Two days later...

Squire Affinity

...I'd bought this.  I swore I wasn't going to make any rash decisions, but this showed up on Facebook Marketplace close to home for a price I thought reasonable and to be honest I've no regrets.  I didn't plan to over-invest in a fledgling new interest, but carrying on with the ToyRUs guitar would have been a mistake.

What next?
To make steady, if not rapid progress and not spend too much money on gear.  Anything else is a bonus.

Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2021, 03:41:55 pm »
Week 1 Observations

So I've been doing Beginner Modules 1 and 2 this first week.

It's worth constantly re-watching the lesson videos.  Even though I think I've taken it all in, after practicing and going back to watch a section again I uncover more context to the advice Justin gives.

Still no finger pain.  I can feel my finger tips callousing over, but other than minor sensitivity they've never really hurt during a week of playing around 40 mins to 1 hour per day.  But what I have found is my fingers start to feel a bit numb and fatigued, so I can end up going backwards with my chords as I just can't get my fingers to assume the position reliably after a while.  The odd easy day or day off is probably sensible.

Recording yourself and playing it back is an eye(ear?) opener.  I thought I had Wonderwall nearly in the bag, so connected my audio interface to Garageband and recorded it.  Holy mother of Christ it sounded awful.

The Nitsuj videos are genius.  If ever you need context on your own progress, watching a veteren guitarist fumbling through chords he's played for decades makes you feel a whole lot better.

I still struggle with transitioning into the D chord consistently and smoothly and I have absolutely no ability to match rythm yet.  It seems refinement and finesse are where the real work is.

Expectations kill enthusiasm.  All week I've been merrily practicing without any preconceptions on how far or fast I will learn. 
But this morning I had to push myself to practice, subconsiously the landmark of being one week in set an expectation that "you should have this nailed by now", and of course, I most certainly do not. 

As a counterpoint, note your acheivements.  I can name and play (albeit inconsistently) a good handful of chords, I know a few songs, I can happily improvise a few tunes together for fun, I know the basics of guitar setup, I can record and do some basic arrangement in Garageband.  Not bad for a week I guess.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2021, 04:24:32 pm by mopar »

Offline Rossco01

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2021, 03:50:11 pm »
Welcome to the forum Mopar and sounds like you are sticking with it for the time being! It's all about small steps at a time. Will continue to follow your journey.
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Offline DavidP

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2021, 03:56:09 pm »
Love reading Roadcases, Mopar, loved your first installments.

As you say, dealing with expectations can be a challenge. My approach is to just accept that my pace is tortoise rather than hare, consider that the day-by-bay process is more important than the milestones. And I am just happy learning, practicing, and enjoying the whole experience.

You sound like you've made lots of progress and I'd encourage just following the programme as Justin lays it down and being patient as you lay a sound foundation.


Offline tobyjenner

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2021, 05:52:25 pm »
Mopar

Great read and I hope you hang in there. You are spot on about expectation but you seem to have your head screwed on. What stood out for me was your comment about re-watching the lessons and picking up on nuances you missed. When questions cropped up on the old/classic Beginners Course, I used to bang on at folks to not just watch the video but read and digest the notes, as these often contained some nuggets, real gems that Justin had glossed over in front of the camera but spelled out in full in the text. Priceless !

Keeping doing what you are doing and you'll be sound. And keep recording your progress as you will see the difference and when you are ready share with us here.

All the best

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Here since Mar 2013 Completed BC, RUST 1 & 2, IM, MTMS Still on Blues Rhythm and Blues Lead
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Roadcase : https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=39537

Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2021, 05:57:45 pm »
...just accept that my pace is tortoise rather than hare, consider that the day-by-bay process is more important than the milestones. And I am just happy learning, practicing, and enjoying the whole experience.

Yes that sums up the attitude I am aiming for very succinctly. 

Had another afternoon practice session with no pressure other than to show up and put some effort in. 

I can now work through the Peter Gunn riff without having to move my hand to finger each individual fret.  It's a stretch and I'm pretty sure I'm gurning like bulldog chewing a wasp while doing it, but it's progress.  What helped was manually putting my fingers in place with the other hand and then just leaving them clamped to the neck for a minute to let the ligaments stretch.

I'm also trying to keep rythm at the center of what I do.  I can feel the task is to break the tie my strumming hand has to my fretting hand.  It's pausing to let the fretting hand get into position before executing the next beat, instead of syncing to the beat and letting the fretting hand operate independently. 

I'm practicing maintaining a steady beat even if my fretting hand loses track, letting it jump back in again on the right beat when it's sorted itself out.

Rythm is by far the most unexpectedly challenging aspect of guitar.


Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2021, 05:59:49 pm »
And keep recording your progress as you will see the difference and when you are ready share with us here.

Honestly it sounded so awful I've put that thought aside for now!  But, I might start videoing myself as I reckon there is insight to be gleaned from observing my posture, wrist angle etc etc that you can't see in first person.

Offline DavidP

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2021, 07:28:26 pm »
I'm practicing maintaining a steady beat even if my fretting hand loses track, letting it jump back in again on the right beat when it's sorted itself out.

Rythm is by far the most unexpectedly challenging aspect of guitar.

Challenging and essential.

You'll keep hearing Justin say "Keep your hand moving" ... getting that down early will serve you well.

You'll also hear over and over the recommendation to slow the tempo down until your left hand can make the changes. Learn the grips and changes accurately however slowly and then slowly speed. That's the fastest way to get things up to speed.

Remember also Justin's other favourite "Practice makes permanent" So slow and accurate is the way to go.

Offline sairfingers

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2021, 08:59:38 pm »
Week 1 Observations

As a counterpoint, note your acheivements.  I can name and play (albeit inconsistently) a good handful of chords, I know a few songs, I can happily improvise a few tunes together for fun, I know the basics of guitar setup, I can record and do some basic arrangement in Garageband.  Not bad for a week I guess.
Sounds to me that you’re doing terrifically well for one week in. Well done! I seem to remember that after a week I couldn’t tie my shoelaces as my fingers were so sore. 😂
Have some vibes from me.
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Road case : https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=48801.0

Online close2u

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2021, 08:47:14 am »
Hi mopar, welcome to the forum and the road cases section. You've created something for you, by you, about you and so now you have set a marker that you can revisit at any time and get a sense of your progress. Keep it up. :)

Offline adi_mrok

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2021, 09:30:09 am »
Hi mopar, warm welcome and hope you stick around. Seems you are progressing well, I wish you all the best and hopefully see you around in AVOYP section. And hey, cool pick guard!

Keep on rockin' my friends


Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2021, 11:18:40 am »
And hey, cool pick guard!

Thanks, was an addition by the previous owner but it really caught my eye.

Today I am working on my rythm.  Keeping my strumming arm moving on 1,2,3 and 4, keeping my foot tapping out the same rythm.  Strumming on 1, strumming on 1 & 3, strumming on 1,2,3 & 4.

Christ on a bike it is hard.  I've not felt this uncoordinated since I learnt to rollerskate.  I'll do another update on this at the end of Week 2.  Hopefully I'll have some more ability by then!

Offline DavidP

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2021, 11:58:29 am »
It is hard.  I've not felt this uncoordinated since I learnt to rollerskate.  I'll do another update on this at the end of Week 2.  Hopefully I'll have some more ability by then!

It sure is and you are not alone in feeling that. All I can say is be gentle and patient in terms of your own expectations. Learning to be a reasonable guitar player is not something achieved in days and weeks. And the first steps are the hardest as you learn a number of complex things, each difficult in its own right but made harder in combination ... learning chord shapes, how to make the shape, how to change between shapes, how to strum on the beat. Just take your time and if it takes a few weeks even months to complete the first lessons and be strumming smoothly as you change between A D and E that is fine.

Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2021, 03:36:15 pm »
Week 2ish & my first setup attempt

So not a lot of change this week, I've been doubling down on the material in Module 2 to just try and nail the basics.  Timing and the whole foot tapping and strumming in time to the music is getting better, even though it still doesn't feel natural yet.  D chord is still proving to be hard to do consistently while playing, I think it's the proximity to the bottom of the neck that is throwing me off.

Peter Gunn is fairly easy now, but I need to work on making each note ring out a bit more rather than being a staccato boop-boop-boop.  I'm hopping from note to note instead of smoothy sustaining one into the next.

On the side I've been working C to G so I can play Roar by Katy Perry, proving easier than E to D for me!

I also did my first practice whilst drunk, not as bad as I thought I'd be under the circumstances, though my perception could have been skewed...

My overall takeaway from this week is to just carry on with what I'm doing and note where I'm going right and wrong.  I need to loosen up my grip a bit with my fretting hand I think and sort my posture out, so I'm taking more breaks and trying to play without looking so I can sit up straighter (easier said than done...).

Onto my first setup attempt...

First I took a little out of the neck relief.  Only an 8th of a turn to get it down to 0.3mm (or at least as close as I can measure).


Next up it was time to sort the action.  We're starting from quite a height, which might explain why my hand is getting tired after a while.



Breaking out the trusty RS Components kit...


Took a bit of back and forwards to get the strings where I wanted them.  I found they needed the occasional pluck to get them to sit correctly and so much height reduction was required they went very slack.  The result being that when tuned up again the action actually went back up a little.

Here is where I ended up...

I've measure each string in order to radius the neck profile


High e at 1.25mm:


Low E at 1.5mm:


I have a little buzz on the E and A at the 12 fret, so they might need to come up a touch but I'll see as it's not too perceptible when actually playing. 

Next is intonation, but I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing with that so some more YouTube tutorials to watch.  It sounds fine while playing though, which is surprising given the amount of change applied.  My clip on tuner is garbage, it often doesn't register a string or just locks up completely until you power cycle it, so I might invest in a better one for this job.

Offline Jamolay

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2021, 04:26:54 pm »
You are doing so many cool and amazing things for a few weeks in! Keep it up and remember, even the boring stuff can be fun!

I had to put myself through some remedial rhythm training. I was not good at it. Spending some time on this will help. I still spend lots of time just tapping, air strumming or whatever to a metronome at different speeds. I still have a long way to go.

Foot tapping hasn’t worked for me. I am a head bobber.


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Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2021, 08:02:33 pm »
You are doing so many cool and amazing things for a few weeks in! Keep it up and remember, even the boring stuff can be fun!

I had to put myself through some remedial rhythm training. I was not good at it. Spending some time on this will help. I still spend lots of time just tapping, air strumming or whatever to a metronome at different speeds. I still have a long way to go.

Foot tapping hasn’t worked for me. I am a head bobber.


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It’s hard to get out of the lifelong habit of tapping along to the melody instead of the beat. I think I might also be a head bobber rather than foot tapper, explains why I can’t dance I guess.

I quite enjoy a bit of fettling, been tempted by a few rough looking guitars as resto projects but I have neither the space or the time.


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Offline Jamolay

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2021, 09:54:22 pm »
It’s hard to get out of the lifelong habit of tapping along to the melody instead of the beat. I think I might also be a head bobber rather than foot tapper, explains why I can’t dance I guess.

I quite enjoy a bit of fettling, been tempted by a few rough looking guitars as resto projects but I have neither the space or the time.


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I did a re-fret of an old electric. It was a long and fastidious job, but the guitar is now a decent instrument.

Next, I am hoping to take an acoustic building class. There is a luthier just a few blocks from me that has great classes. Expensive, but you end up with a very good all wood acoustic built by your truly.

I had some good laughs trying to coordinate strumming, cord changes and foot tapping at the same time. Like a Monty python skit…


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Offline DavidP

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2021, 08:18:16 am »
Sounds like you are continuing on a solid path, making good progress, and enjoying it, Mopar.

Keep doing what you're doing and you'll develop your rhythmic ability, slow and steady

Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2021, 11:50:43 am »
Thanks for the words of encouragement folks.

Have got another couple of hours in and made some incremental improvements here and there. Strangely I’m not noticing any benefits from the lower string action. Or perhaps I am and I just can’t consciously perceive it?

I would have expected to really feel it after such a dramatic drop though, but it’s certainly no worse for the setup I’ve done.

Did a by-ear check on my intonation and it sounds ok for now, but I’ll find myself a nicer tuner and check it properly.


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Offline Jamolay

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2021, 02:01:14 pm »
You will probably notice the lower action the more you play. Your fingers still remember the old action and most likely still press the same. As you play you will readjust and find that less is needed at the new action and there is less effort, discomfort and fatigue.


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Offline mopar

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2021, 02:14:07 pm »
You will probably notice the lower action the more you play. Your fingers still remember the old action and most likely still press the same. As you play you will readjust and find that less is needed at the new action and there is less effort, discomfort and fatigue.


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Yes I expect you are right, makes sense. My left hand is pretty achey today so I’ve definitely been mashing the strings I think. Might take a day off tomorrow to let the muscles in my hand recover a bit.


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Offline stackpop

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Re: Mopar's Road Case
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2021, 03:19:08 pm »
Wow! You learned all the Wonderwall chords in a week and did a set up after two. I am impressed. Sounds like you're having great fun and progressing at a good pace. I really like the pickgaurd on your Affinity. Gives you a much more unique looking Strat that most beginners have. Keep it up and thank you for sharing.

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